We had movement in our legs to our surprise when we woke up this morning. I could feel my quad muscles a little from all the uphill steps (some of them were quite steep) but nothing that would cause me any grief.
On the road we went again heading South and after 30 kilometres we came to Fox Glacier, Franz Josef's competition. Firstly, we turned off the main road and arrived at Lake Matheson, also claiming to be the world's most photographed lake. This is a small lake that you can walk round in 90 minutes and, when calm, has the most amazing reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. It was such a lovely walk, quiet and peaceful, with stunning views. We stopped a few times just to admire the lake's beauty, only moving on because we were being eaten alive by the mozzies. This is by far my favourite lake because I just don't think you could ever get tired of visiting it. You could walk to the same viewing platform every day and I don't think you would ever see two reflections the same. It must look completely different in the summer when all the snow has melted and there are flowers around the water. When we had finished the walk we had a lovely coffee and hot chocolate in the cafe and we sat outside enjoying the warm sunshine.
When we asked at a visitor's centre for their recommendation on which Glacier to hike they said it was worthwhile walking up to whichever Glacier we didn't hike on so, after a quick ten minute drive, off we went up a shorter valley to the lip of the Fox Glacier. We were very happy chappies. Fox, although magnificent, was not a patch on Franz Josef. It wasn't as big, steep and didn't look to have as tall crevices as it's nemesis. The valley also wasn't as beautiful. It had a very pretty run off river, which made some pools but there were very few waterfalls and the cliffs were not as remarkable. We're glad we chose FJ, and equally glad we walked up to Fox to see what we were not missing (Thanks Darren for the recommendation!)
We had quite a drive ahead of ourselves today so onwards we went, making our way South on a very clear and beautiful day. We were heading to Wanaka along the famous Haast Pass, a road which leaves the coast and travels through the Southern Alps. Along the way were several little diversions, namely waterfalls and the river, giving us the opportunity to break up the drive and stretch our legs. Before we reached the Pass though we drove along the West Coast, passing a beautiful Bay called Bruce Bay.
Our first stop was at Roaring Billy Falls and after a quick stroll through the forest we came to the river, which was a brilliant aquamarine colour, and the said falls directly opposite. They lived up to their name with water cascading over a number of rocks. It was a pretty spectacular sight. We didn't linger too long as we kept being bitten by sand flies, which were nastier than the mozzies (if that's possible) so we kept moving to avoid becoming lunch.
We drove for a little while alongside the river and we could see the snowy mountains in the distance above the green landscape, a weird sight on a warm day! A bit further along the road we stopped again at Thunder Creek Falls, another waterfall with a single stream of water gushing over the edge and falling 28 metres before hitting the Haast River. As we walked to the waterfall we passed a couple we had seen at Roaring Billy Falls and we made a joke that we were following them. They replied that they were checking out the sights to make sure they were worth our time. We bumped into them over the next couple of stops, they obviously had the same agenda as we did!
Our third stop was a third waterfall, similar to the first one we saw but Roaring Billy Falls was slightly hidden by trees and other vegetation and was slightly higher, whereas Fantail Falls were in full view and were slightly wider. Again, the water flowed into the Haast River.
Our fourth and final stop was also our longest walk to the Blue Pools. After about a kilometre we came to the Makarora River, which formed a couple of deep, blue, crystal clear pools. We walked over suspension bridges which crossed these pools and we could see large brown trout swimming along. Once again the colour of the water was a bright blue, caused by the snow melt and the light reflecting on it. It was simply beautiful, and with the snowy capped mountains in the background, what more could you ask for?
The road continued on through the Alps and eventually we reached Lake Wanaka. One word, WOW! What an absolutely stunning lake, once again a gorgeous blue colour with mountains towering over at the other side, with the last of the snow among its peaks. It stretched on for miles and miles, and every time we stopped (and we did stop several times) we never got sick of the view.
We drove alongside the water for a good while before leaving it and crossing over to Lake Hawea, another beautiful lake but not quite as jaw-dropping as Lake Wanaka. Our final leg of the long drive was alongside this body of water, before we reached the Southern end and drove through Hawea. After another ten minutes we finally reached Wanaka, a town located at the Southern end of Lake Wanaka. We drove through the high street and along the lake shore until we found a camp site.