I actually ended up visiting Wanaka twice during my stay in New Zealand, once as a very brief stop on the Kiwi bus, and then once again after Queenstown. For ease, I’ll include both in this post, as on the Kiwi bus stop, we basically did nothing thanks to terrible weather.
On the way down from Franz Josef we took a pit stop at Lake Matheson, otherwise known as the reflection lakes… you”ll see why later. Because the weather was pretty miserable, and it had been raining down at sea level, all the mountains were covered in snow, which made them look so amazing.
Mount Cook looking b-e-a-utiful
We stopped for around an hour, so we could follow the trail around the lakes and enjoy the amazing views.
See why they’re called the reflection lakes? One of the best views I have seen. I’ll even forgive the little ducks for ruining some of my photos…
Photo creds: Tom Stones
And we managed to get a group shot by the lakes before heading back on the bus down to Wanaka.
So the rest of this post is from when I went back to Wanaka by myself. The first time through with the Kiwi bus, it rained non stop so we ended up just playing pool in a local bar and then heading off to Queenstown the next day. But I’d heard such good things about Wanaka, so once we were done in Queenstown, I decided to head back for a couple of days to see what the fuss was about.
I caught the bus early from Queenstown, and arrived to the hostel to drop my bags. As I only had a couple of days here, I had a lot I wanted to fit in. The first stop was a hike up Mount Iron, which was a quite short hike to get some nice views of the town.
It was a pretty easy up-hill, with some really nice views along the way.
I was quite conscious of the weather on the way up, as it did look quite grey, and I wanted to miss the rain, which meant a very speedy walk up to the summit.
The summit gave some great views of the scenery, and I was starting to see why everyone liked Wanaka so much (was I in for a treat the following day).
On the way down, the weather started to turn, and I hurried back to the hostel for some shelter in hopes it was just a passing shower. Unfortunately it wasn’t, and the rest of the day remained grey. However, I did have plans to go and visit the famous ‘Wanaka tree”, so I headed out into the rain.
It was a pretty interesting sight, seeing just a lone tree in the middle of the lake. Apparently one of the most photographed trees in the world!
I was back to the hostel in time to see the Patriots win the Superbowl.. woohoo!
The following day, I was heading up Roy’s Peak. This hike had been highly recommended to me by a lot of people because of the amazing views along the whole hike, so I was really excited to do it. It was also my first solo hike on my travels, which actually turned out to be great, as I could go my own pace the whole way. I stocked up on snacks and cycled down to the start of the path.
The signs at the start of the walk suggested it could be an 8 hour round trip (!!), but I think I must have been power walking as I managed to do it in 4 1/2 including stops ! The beginning of the hike was pretty steep, and I was beginning to regret losing a lot of my fitness on my travels, but luckily it evened out and wasn’t so bad after the first hour. After about 2 hours I made it to the main viewpoint (which funnily enough wasn’t the summit). And I wasn’t disappointed.
I can’t even explain how amazing the views were, the pictures don’t even do it justice.
After I was done admiring the views, and stopping for a quick snack, I continued my route for the next 20/30 minutes to the summit. By the time I got there, it had really clouded over, and the views were a bit impaired…
I spent a bit of time at the top, catching my breath and fueling up for the way down, by which time the clouds had started to pass again.
The whole way down was spent admiring the beautiful views and taking some photos.
I finished the walk in around 4.5 hours, and headed back to the hostel for an early night before heading back to Queenstown the following day.
If you are ever in New Zealand, make sure you visit Wanaka and hike Roy’s Peak. Easily one of the most beautiful hikes and views I have ever witnessed.