Getting from Franz Josef to Wanaka took about 8-9 hours. We departed Franz Josef at 09:00 am and arrived in Wanaka around 5:00-5:30pm.
We had a short pick up in the nearby town called Fox Glazier before heading off to the beautiful mirror lake called 'Lake Matheson'. The lake has the nickname 'the mirror lake' because you can see the reflection of the mountains and trees in the lake - and this makes for a beautiful picture.
At the beginning of the lake walk there's a small carpark with a nice café and a view of the mountains, green fields and riverbeds. You are able to sit outside on the terrace at rustic wooden tables and chairs and enjoy the view or inside if you find it too cold. The café has big windows on the side facing the mountains so you won't miss the view if sitting inside.
We didn't have enough time to walk all the way around the lake which would have taken approx. 1 ½ hour. We just walked to the two most known photo spots which took about 45 min return.
After Lake Matheson we drove to the Haast pass which led us through rainforest and amazing waterfalls to big beautiful mountains and we stopped along the way to walk to the Blue pools.
The Blue pools are accessible from the highway down a carefully maintained gravel path; a 10-15 min walk. A swing bridge is located above the river and you have a great view of the forest and the beautiful pools. The glazier water is very cold and the colour of the water is azure blue and emerald green, an amazing sight.
We made another stop just outside Wanaka to take pictures of the breath-taking view of the mountains and Lake Hawea. Arriving in Wanaka we experienced the incredible Lake Wanaka which is the 4th largest lake in New Zealand.
Wanaka - the picture perfect gem
Wooow, I love Wanaka!
It's the perfect spot to relax and unwind. Some refer to it being like Queenstown before Queenstown became the party city that it is renowned for now.
A calm atmosphere with a beautiful lake, people inhaling the fresh air whilst strolling along the lakeside, trees slowly waving in the wind, lively pubs, restaurants and bars but this is not all. People here seem to enjoy themselves, they have time, they have loads of time to relax and revel in good food and enjoy each other's company.
I stayed in Wanaka for two nights but I wish I had had more time. I can easily imagine that Wanaka is one of those places you come to visit, and end up staying for life. It has an authentic feel.
I hiked one of the mountains in Wanaka together with two cool Irish ladies that I had met on the Stray bus. Like me they are in their mid-30's and really impressed by New Zealand's nature.
The return hike took 5 hours and the view from the mountain was jaw-dropping.
(Easy to say that my bum, legs and most of my skeleton was aching the following days due to the steep trail up the mountain which didn't become any easier having to use same the trail on the way down)