After a few fun days in Queenstown, we left to spend a couple days in Wanaka. It was the first time Dave was back in the car driving, so the first half hour of our short ride was spent talking about how weird it was to be on the opposite side. The Gibbston Valley that we drove though is beautiful, tons of wineries, orchards and the beautiful Kawarau River, where we stopped to watch people bungy jump.
It would have been nice to stop by a few vineyards for a tasting, but we had planned to hike the Rob Roy Glacier when we reached Wanaka, so we drove on by. Luckily, we stopped at a store to get a few bottles to enjoy in the evening, the area really does make a good Pinot Noir.
After about a 2 hour drive from Queenstown, we reached Wanaka, which is like a mini-Queenstown (although don’t tell a local that!). We went to the DOC office to get some info on the glacier hike. There was a storm moving into the Mount Aspring area, where the hike begins/ends and part of the adventure of the hike is the drive. Not only do you drive on a gravel road, you also have to ‘ford’ 8 creeks. No one had reported back the road conditions with the rain moving in, so we decided to give it a try. Well, once we reached the first creek, we decided ‘fording’ it in our little car wasn’t best, especially since it was going to continue to rain. At least we learned the best way to drive on a gravel road (fast) and got to see a ton of sheeps and lambs! We did hike Rocky Mountain (part of the Diamond Lake hike), which was a tough climb up the mountain (rather a large hill compared to the mountains around us) on a billy goat style trail. At the top, the hike offered stunning views of the area, well worth the climb.
Wanaka is such a great little town. We had an awesome view of Lake Wanaka from our hotel (our favorite of the trip) and enjoyed some good food and wine the first night there, at the Spice Room.
The next morning we got ready for our canyoning adventure. It was still raining, so at first our trip was pushed to later in the day and then later that morning, we got word it would be cancelled altogether because the rain wouldn’t be stopping and the water level in the canyon was too high. We had to rearrange our schedule at bit in order to be able to do canyoning the next day, so we decided to do what we would be doing tomorrow, today.
We drove to Haast along the Haast Pass. The first part of our drive sucked, non-stop rain. We stopped along the way to see waterfalls and a few sights along the way and because of the rain, there were waterfalls everywhere, one didn’t even need to stop.
Once we made it to Haast, we turned around and I drove for the first time. Luckily, the sky started to clear and we had a lovely drive back.
When we made it back to Wanaka, we decided to do the Mount Iron hike (again, more like a large hill) to end our day. Thank goodness the rain had finally passed because we had an amazing 360 degree view from the top.
Despite the rain and delays, we still had a great day exploring. Up next, CANYONING and Glacier Hiking!