Wanaka to

Trip Start Aug 26, 2006
Trip End Dec 21, 2006

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

We drove through the Crown range to get to Wanaka. This meant climbing steep roads slowly and creeping around tight corners. On reaching the top it was worth it - we were surrounded by snow and high up in the mountains.

The next day in Wanaka we went off to do a few walks. We started by climbing 240M to the top of Mount Iron. On reaching its peak we had a our picnic enjoying the views across Lake Wanaka (we then went on to walk around the lake's edge for a couple of hours). Wanaka was very relaxed after our high adrenalin fueled visit to Queenstown.

The next day we headed up to Lake Hawea. On reaching the DOC site we realised that we had forgotten to get any cash out (we had none left). We headed further north upset that we would have to leave our camp next to the lake side. Out the next town we were told the next ATM was at Haast (about another 120K on). At Haast there was no ATM (I used my credit card to fill up with petrol) the next was at Franz Joseph. Then we headed on to Lake Paringa (with no money) and took a risk at the camp site. Luckily no one came to collect fees. We were up and out of their just before 8am the next day to make sure.

We went onto Fox Glacier (still with no cash - but we could use credit card for everything we would need here). The next day we were up early to tackle the Fox Glacier. Kitted out in hiking gear and crampons we climbed the ice. Before that we had an hour and a half climbing 500 steep steeps and most of that with a sheer drop to our right.

It was great to get on the ice although I found most of the trip slow and not particularly challenging. As we passed the ice climber I made a note that that was something I should try out at some point - we were mere hikers. Even though it did not reach the extremities I had hope for it was still an inspiring experience.

We spent the night camped just off Gillespies Beach and watched another beautiful sunset as massive waves crashed into the sand.

The following day we made our way further north, stopping over in Okarito, then in Reefton. These two travel days consisted of a lot of rain and a few short walks. By the time we made it to Hanmer Springs the sun was shining. We spent our first half hour in Hanmer playing crazy golf - which I won of course (although Jenn did have an impressive back nine that consisted in a hole in one.

Once we parked up at our camp site we sat an enjoyed the sun for the first time in quite a while. The following day was equally glorious and we enjoyed in the local thermal baths, with the various pools ranging from 35 to 41 degrees. It was difficult to leave and we had been there a good four hours before that entered our minds. I enjoyed it so much that I went back to enjoy it later that night too - by then distant clouds brought a light rain (not that it mattered).
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