Oct 9th- 11th
Leaving Franz Josef we headed 35 minutes out to Lake Matheson, near the Fox Glacier, which is famous for it's stunning reflected views of Mount Cook. We came here in 2012 and the views were spectacular and so worth the visit, and we are glad we seen it then, as this time around a lot of the pathways were closed for maintenance and we couldn't get to the iconic point, also the the water wasn't calm so the mirror image wasn't quite there, but it was a nice tramp and still beautifully scenic.
Continuing down the west coast then following the Haast Pass-Makarora road inland we stopped off to gaze at some spectacular waterfalls as we drove 2 and half hours to the Blue Pools in Mt Aspiring National Park. We parked the car and followed the short 20 minutes walking track until we reached the Blue Pools and the swing bridge which crosses the Makarora River, you can continue tramping through the valley but we decided to go down to the water where I dipped my toes into the icy water, Shannon being braver than me jumped right in and promptly back out. The water was the least of our worries when we started feeling itchy, there were SANDFLIES everywhere. They are the nastiest, maddening, little bloodsucking insects that live! The female sandflies will latch on to you and suck your blood (yes only the females are the vampires), unlike mosquitos, the bites will last days or even weeks, and the more you itch the pain just stays. Sandflies are found in the South Island and predominantly on the west coast due to the mix of coastal areas and mountains where rainfall and vegetation prove to be a hospitable environment. You will find them swarming at wet areas like lakes and beaches. You should cover head to toe to try avoid them and use Deet, after the bite we found Germolene helped the pain mildly.
From the Blue Pools we had a beautiful 1 hour scenic drive to Wanaka, where we stayed at Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park for $25pn we had free wifi, free hot showers, use of spa and sauna, large plot for tent, and spacious kitchen/ common area, located 2 kilometres out of town.
We spent our time in pretty Wanaka by wandering around the lake, eating and drinking out and star gazing. We were hoping to see the Aurora Australis (Southern Hemisphere's equivalent to the Northern Lights). We unfortunately didn't get a glimpse of them but were treated to an amazing starry sky.
We also jumped 15,000 feet out of a plane. Read about that experience here.....