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Published: December 18th 2015
We left Fox Glacier with barely a glance backwards and headed southward down State Highway 6. We must have crossed at least a hundred single lane bridges before we pulled in for the evening. I believe that their only purpose was to keep drivers from drifting off due to the tedium of the road. For at least one hundred kilometres we passed nothing but trees. No settlements (not even an isolated house) and no roads to either the left or the right. Trees lined our way; dense woodland right up to the edge of the road. It felt dark and gloomy, the rain was coming down and I was bored.
We stopped for the night at the one place we could along the road - a Department of Conservation Campsite by Lake Paringa. This lake was remarkable only for the fact that it was something different amidst the trees. It was surprisingly busy as the DOC were holding an event at the water's edge. In the evening we decided to try to find a short walk. A few kilometres down the road there was an almost disused track which we took. As we entered this swampy path, constantly clambering over
tree roots, we passed a sign saying that the DOC had been dropping poison pellets to kill certain species. It gave me an eerie feeling to enter a poisoned forest. We didn't get far down the path as it appeared to be a lot of hard work for very little reward. Instead we just went back to our tent and did some puzzles.
The next day dawned wet... very, very wet. We drove on down the highway constantly battling the ennui resulting from seeing only trees. Eventually we came to a few scattered houses and then the odd village. Finally, the forest suddenly stopped and we came to the town of Makarora. There still wasn't much here but at least the backdrop was more interesting. Behind the trees mountains had risen. Still further, and suddenly the land dropped away to our right and we were driving on a cliff-top overlooking an indescribably beautiful turquoise lake, completely encircled by lofty mountains. We passed a DOC campsite at Boundary Creek and immediately decided we would camp there. For now though we pushed on. The road left Lake Wanaka and then a kilometre later went along the edge of a second, equally
gorgeous stretch of water, Lake Hawea.
About thirty kilometres further and we reached the pretty town of Wanaka on the very Southern edge of Lake Wanaka. Here we parked on the lake shore and admired the view of the mountains whilst watching people learn to paddleboard right in front of us. Our first priority was to get some food and we treated ourselves to lunch in a café which we enjoyed immensely. As we stepped out of the café we discovered that the sun had come out and was blazing down. We stocked up on supplies and drove back to Boundary Creek to set up camp.
We had a lazy start to the next morning which dawned hot and sunny. Lindsey treated me to pancakes for breakfast next to the lake. I have never eaten in such a beautiful location. We sat on the driftwood strewn pebbly beach looking across to the majestic mountains opposite. One in particular stood out to me as it appeared to be a sheer cliff-face of slate amidst the generally softer limestone peaks. I could have drunk in the view for hours.
After a hearty breakfast we got going. It was nice
to pack away a dry tent after so many days of rain. We drove back to Makarora and took a short walk there to the Blue Pools. This is a pretty path leading to the confluence of the Black and Makarora rivers where the water forms a deep blue pool. We crossed a wobbly swing bridge and then scrambled down to the pebbles below. It was tempting to swim in the river but the water was too cold, despite the heat of the sun. We saw people jumping from the bridge into the water but it really didn't look deep enough.
After this walk we drove back to Wanaka. We had to stop at all of the viewing points because the light was so different from the previous day. Here we joined bus loads of oriental tourists in trying to get the perfect photo. As we passed Lake Hawea we passed a film crew shooting a scene with a grey Porsche, we have no idea what the film was though. When we got back to Wanaka we did a bit of shopping. We'd been told it was a great place to buy Merino wool but this turned out to
be wrong. Instead we bought icecream before checking into our accommodation where we enjoyed a sauna and a hot tub which was a great tonic for two days of camping on basic campsites.
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