Wanaka, New Zealand

February 19, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Mount Roy summitMount Roy summitThe track to the summit can be seen on the ridge line. We stayed in Wanaka in the Southern Alps of New Zealand for a week. It was a great base to see the wilderness of New Zealand's South Island. Wanaka has grown considerably over the past decade but is still quieter than the adventure capital, Queenstown. 

We did a short walk around Diamond Lake offering a view across Lake Wanaka. The lake is about 300m deep, which actually makes it deeper than sea level. We then drove up the Matukituki River, mostly rugged farmland leading up to Mt Aspiring National Park. The valley is surrounded by some high mountains: Mount Aspiring, Shark's Tooth and Cascade Saddle which is a steep climb out of the Matukituki valley into the Dart River. It's main entry point for mountaineers to climb Mount Aspiring, which is the highest mountain in the region. 

The road to the north of Wanaka leads to the west coast of New Zealand. We drove up this road to the Wilkin River. This is the base for the Wilkin-Young Track, a challenging 3-4 day hike over Gillespie Pass near Mt Awful and Mt Dreadful. A jet boat ride took us up the Wilkin River and we spent the afternoon walking further along the Wilkin River. It was a civilised walk through classic New Zealand beech forest and was definitely the wilderness! It had a distinct "Lord of the Rings" feel to it but we didn't see any hobbits or Orcs. We didn't see anyone else all afternoon but there were plenty of sand flies to keep us company. The jet boat picked us up for a fast trip back to the main road.   

Lake PukakiLake PukakiView to Mount Cook I spent an afternoon climbing up Mt Roy, a peak to the south of Wanaka which overlooked many of the nearby mountains and lakes. It was a steep 1,200m climb in the warm sun but well worth it for the views. Mt Aspiring even came out of the clouds for a short time.

Another day trip was up to Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. I did a 10 day mountaineering course from Kelman Hut last time I was in New Zealand and climbed over Ball Pass. There was no time for that on this visit so we had a civilized walk up the Hooker Valley for lunch. Mt Sefton loomed over us and we enjoyed views across the valley. We were fortunate to see the summit of Mount Cook later in the afternoon. Its Maori name is Aoraki which means "cloud piercer" - quite appropriate!

After an enjoyable week in Wanaka, we flew up to the North Island for our next adventure.

I've uploaded photos from the Routeburn Track and Wanaka to my photo gallery. Enjoy!

 


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