Day 12 (September 19, 2012)   Haast Pass


Route for New Zealand's 9th day   The mess in our route plan could start from this day. Regardless of that, the idea for this day would be ending in Queenstown.

   In our way through the Haast Pass (the only of the three passes through Southern Island mountains we’re going to use in this travel) there are a couple of interesting stops: the Blue Pools and a falls along the road.

   We could then stop in Wanaka to enjoy the lake views and lunching and, if we’re on time, we could even visit an original thematic park about puzzles: The Puzzlingworld.

   We could also pass by places as Arrowtown, a well conserved town looking as the ones in Westerns.

   Before reaching Queenstown we would stop one last time in the part of Karawau River were bungy jumping appeared for first time and where the Argonaths scene from “Lord of the Rings” movie was filmed.

   Once in Queenstown we will go out for enjoying some of its night live, and we could start in the ice bar.

   We could think about the adventure activity we’re going to join – if even we want to do any -. Bugy jump and Skydive are expensive, Jet Boat or Flying foxes are more affordable.

   Route at map is 215 Km long, which could be covered in 2 hours and a half .


   Today we’re going to reach a good level of delay in our route plan but the glacier tour is definitively a must-do for us.

   At sunrise, there are no clouds in the sky and the peaks were hidden yesterday can be completely seen now. As we’re going to be told later in the tour, the two highest peaks in New Zealand are there: Mount Cook and Tasman, it’s just the optical effect makes Tasman to seem higher because it is closer. The beach with the complete postcard of snowed mountains is amazing because it is disconcerting too.

Mount Cook at left and Mount Tasman at right

   As scheduled, at 7 AM we leave the place and take the same gravel road thought a forest which brought us here yesterday begging meeting no campervans in our way as it seems there is no enough space for two. That’s the reason for going such early, we want to have spare time in case of any issue. But there is no issue except for, just before reaching the paved road, some cows start running in front of us, marking the speed of all three motorhomes, in order to avoid their calves to be harmed.

Sun rises at Gillespie's BeachCows leading our convoy

   As we know well the way because we did it yesterday we’re parked in Fox Glacier Guiding tour offices with no troubles and time enough as per asking to plugging some of our camera batteriesFox Glacier guiding changing room to be charged while we’re on breakfast or looking around the gift shop. We use then our card to pay the 109$ per person for the tour.

   We’re called at 8:10 AM to get into the dressing area. We take seat while we’re given some explanations and then we’re delivered boots, jackets, cloves, crampons, socks and, in case you need too: hats, bags and water proof pants. One of the two guides is an Argentinian woman, which will help to our group with the language.

   A short ride in a full van and we’re in front of Fox Glacier. There are different groups of people for different things, so finally, it’s just a 15 persons group the one we belong and join in our climbing in a path through rocks to reach the glacier from the left side. We must cross a couple of streams in our way, jumping stone to stone, and guides keep telling us details and information about this area and this glacier.

Arrival to Fox Glacier by vanFox Glacier view

Walking to the GlacierFox Glacier face from left side

   Before getting on the glacier we must tie our crampons on the boots and taking one stick. Now we’re ready to walk over ice.

   From this point tour becomes amazing: we pass by the narrowest paths between ice walls and visit deep holes opened by the water in the ice, where the intense blue beats the generic white around.

Fox Glacier tourFox Glacier tour

Fox Glacier tour

Fox Glacier tour

   Today is surprisingly sunny. Surprisingly for them, who explain the reason of glaciers these glaciers to exist so close to the sea level is the rain, which seems to appear two of each three days, in a way the incoming snow volume in the glacier is always bigger than the outgoing volume of water. We’re already used to the sun to be there, which seems to be unusual in New Zealand, but we still don’t want to talk about it because… you know… don’t want to break the spell.
Fox Glacier Tour

   We’re back in town four hours later, which has passed so fast for us. We deliver the borrowed clothes and are given a certificate as we’ve explored Fox Glacier. It’s around 1 PM when we’re back on the road driving to Haast Pass.

   The wild Tasman Sea is constantly appearing at our right while driving and we stop in a viewpoint with wonderful views over it. We’re talking about stopping at next place we can lunch. After that point, the road leaves the coast to take the pass, just before it, we follow a sign in the road addressing us to the empty restaurant of Heartland World Heritage Hotel, some minutes past 3 PM.

Bruce Bay viewsDishes at restaurant

   As usual, dishes are big and the seafood chowder is spectacular. It’s 215$ for all eight persons.

Thunder Creek Falls   It’s at 4:15 PM when we’re on the road getting into the Haast Pass. The sun is setting the end of this journey and we know it is not going to be in Queenstown. At the moment, we’re still expecting to visit our two stops along this way.

   And we do it. Thunder Creek falls come first and three is space enough for parking the three motorhomes for a very short walk to the falls. It is a high waterfall over a river with that greener blue color the rivers have around here.

Thunder Creek Falls detail

   On another hand, the short, but longer, walk to Blue Pools drives us to a bridge over an area of the river with quiet and surprisingly intense blue colored waters which is not affecting to their great transparence. We can even see the big trouts living in this river.

Blue PoolsBlue Pools

Blue PoolsBlue Pools

   We’re now ready for checking how far the sun is going to let us get. I’m betting by Wanaka and, if so, the delay of this day could affect less than expected to the general route plan.

   There is no longer sun for today when we reach Hawea Lake, but it is still not completely dark. The landscape is wonderful at our left: the entire big lake surface with the mountains around enveloped in dark blue tones.

Riverbed along the Haast Pass road

   Just before Wanaka we can see the Puzzling World, with no other light than the moon and what rest of dusk. It is along motorway 6, which we leave just to get into Wanaka town. We're looking for the park we've chosen between all in the guide: Aspiring Holyday Park.

   When we arrive following the signs across the town, we find it is almost full, although there is vacancy for us. It is shocking as all the parks before were quite empty. It has the first free Wifi we find in parks and even they'll deliver free hot chocolate tomorrow morning for breakfast. We love this place and it is in our average of prices: 160$ for three motorhomes and eight people. We cook for tomorrow's lunch as we're thinking about consuming the food we have in the fridges.