From Coast to Lakes

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Day 34    Mount Aspiring National park      

Today was another travel day as I make my way down the Glacier highway, SH6 from Fox Glacier to Haast, then through Mount Aspiring National park to Wanaka. I wake up nice and early as the sun creeps over the Southern alps, shining through the curtains. Another glorious day in the South, so I take a little stroll down the pebble beach to wake up. Back for breakfast and then start heading back to Fox township. On the way, I stop off at some more lakes, this time it’s Lake Matheson.

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Matheson is just a small lake but with a massive view, people flock here when the weather is fine and there’s no wind to get the perfect mirror like reflection of Mt Tasman and Mt Cook among other peaks in the southern Alps. They say the best time of day is dusk and dawn when there is less wind. By the time, I got there the sun was up and a small breeze had started to roll in, it wasn’t a mirror but the few ripples didn’t change the magical view. I did the 1.5-hour easy walk around the lake that gives you numerous different perspectives of the view as you head around, with native birds flying around you, the old eel and the notorious Southern Sand Fly’s, take your insect repellent.

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After completing the track at my battery going flat on my camera, head back down the road to Fox Town for an early lunch and a bit of Wi-Fi to post yesterday’s blog. There isn’t much in the way of internet and cell phone coverage on the west coast so you have to make the most of it when you get into a town. I head out of town and slowly make it back to the coast, stopping off and having a quick look at Bruce Bay and Knights Point.

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I Had planned to carry on down the coast to Jacksons Bay, the southernmost community on the West coast, but I was running out of time to get over to Wanaka for the night so a carried on and decided ill have a look in Haast instead. Well I travelled on down saw a few signs for things to do in Haast, but I think I might have blinked as I didn’t see any township or signs saying where it was, I assume I was supposed to turn off somewhere but failed to see it. Bit of a fail there but there was more sights to see.

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Just outside where Haast is supposed to be, is the Mount Aspiring National Park, there’s no missing this as I follow the Haast river and ranges on the left with the forests and mountains of the national park on my right. Winding my way around the hills and stopping off at a few view points along the way to capture the stunning scenery, I also spent a bit of time at the Thunder creek falls and Fantail falls, taking a few pics and then carrying on my way. By the time, I come out the other side of the National park at Makarora, I’m getting a bit tired and decide to end the driving here and check-in at the camp ground, still an hour away from my original night’s destination but not too far to go in the morning, plus there’s something I want to see back up the road when there’s a bit more day light. I call it an end to day 34.

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Day 35  Wanaka

Up bright and early again, plan for today is to get to Wanaka and spend the afternoon there. I wait around at the campground until checkout time, waiting for the sun to rise over the mountains surrounding us, so I can go and see the Blue Pools. Glacier fed pools that as the name suggests are blue in colour. Just off the main road is a short 15min walk to a few of the many pools in the area, crossing a swing bridge and getting a good view of the river, I carry on around to the next bridge that reveals the blue pools. A couple of people decide it would be a good idea to take a dip in the very clear and very cold water, surprisingly they didn’t stay in for long. The sand flies were swarming around so I got out of there as soon as I could.

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Back on the road, I head towards Wanaka. Driving through farm land for a while then coming around a corner to the stunning Lake Wanaka. Not a cloud in the sky, the water sparkling in between the golden hills. A few photos later and a slight delay because of a slip, the road heads east and over the sister lake and just as good looking, Lake Hawea. I stop off at the town and head down the lake edge for a spot of lunch before I carry on.

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Once finished I head just down the road to Wanaka town. This little town is like the little sibling of the town around, Queenstown. There’s so much to do and see here, right on the lakes edge, there’s numerous water activities, beautiful hikes, mountain biking for all skill levels and of course all the other adrenaline, thrill seeking activities. First things first thought for me was to get a haircut, been struggling to find one on the west coast or at least one that will the same day.

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Not looking as much like a homeless person anymore I head down to the information centre, and sus out things to do in the area. A few things take my fancy and decide to spend the rest of the afternoon riding around the area and then check out the local Mountain bike track, Sticky Forest. The forest is an easy ride from town and is full of intermediate to Advanced tracks, enough to fill anyone’s needs for the day. I do a couple of tracks and check out the view from the top before heading back into town.

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I do the kiwi thing and grab some fish and chips from Boaboa, before heading down to the lake to enjoy them with 100 seagulls and a friendly dog. By now the sun had set and was time to start looking for a place to stay for the night. All the camp grounds are very expensive, just like everything else down around this area, so I find a freedom camp 15mins outside town. I join 20+ other campers for the night in the carpark surrounded by the golden hills and the blight starry skies.

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