Lovely, lovely Wanaka we leave you with fond memories, heavy hearts and multiple injuries.
You can probably understand why we’ve spent more time in Wanaka than anywhere else in NZ – not only is it the epitome of picturesque its like a playground for fun activities. In the summer there is a raft of mountain bike & tramping trails, water sports on the lake (as we’ve already mentioned we pitted our whits at kayaking), swimming & running clubs, rock & waterfall climbing, sky diving and canyoning. In the winter there are two ski resorts in the immediate vicinity and a host of ice climbs which you can undertake. For our swan song we opted for the 5-6 hour hike up to Roy’s Peak and a spot of canyoning in the nearby rain forest.
The tramp to Roy’s Peak, which is just one of any number of tramps in the local area, was a supposed 5-6 hour ‘hard’ level hike to a lookout point on the Lake’s west side. Naturally, we think a lot of ourselves when it comes to walking/climbing up mountains of this size so we took up the challenge as keen as mustard. Roy’s Peak stands around 1500 meters up Mount Alpha and in its own right is the largest mound of earth either of us have scaled. It was a pleasant day, not too hot, not too cold and thankfully, dry.
We set off and zig-zagged our way up setting off at quite a mean pace barely stopping for even a sip of water until we’d worked up a rigorous sweat and Milly’s calves had cramped. We mused ourselves on the way up at the local sheep and as there was also another couple who set off at a similar time, we set our sights on beating them to the top (then throwing them off when they got there).
We hit Roy’s Peak before the other two losers and as I creamed my poorly feet, Milly took a host of pics from the dusty jut of rock which Roy apparently named after himself. The views, as you can see, were beautiful and a nice reward for the hard work we’d put in. Not to feel like our day’s work was done, there is a further 300 meter ascent (about 1.5km walk) up to the summit of Mount Alpha, which we agreed would piss us off if we didn’t reach. We cracked on through the now cold and windy terrain until we touched down on summit Alpha and also touched a few clouds. I had a quick wee – the highest wee I’ve ever done whilst being on land – and we quickly descended down the mount. Towards the end we were both struggling with injuries; me with cracked foot and rubbing ‘footwearitus’ and Milly with a slight groin strain.
Thankfully we made it back down in a respectable time of approximately 4 hours. It was a tough climb though so we’ll give ourselves at least a day’s rest before we do another one.
As neither of us could walk all that well we hobbled to the local supermarket to reward ourselves with a pasta salad dinner and found a campsite in the town centre which was lovely but costly due to its location, however given we were too tired to venture any further we took it on the chin and wallowed in our achievement until night took us away (well we couldn’t keep our eyes open past 9pm).
After a long sleep we awoke feeling much better and refuelled for the day ahead. We parked up along the Lake front to where an annual triathlon meet was taking place. We had a peek around and noticed/heard over the tannoy that there was a competition going on in one of the sponsor tents. Whoever had the highest average speed over 30 seconds won a $50 dollar voucher at the local supermarket. We both gave it a go and when we left we were top of the leader board, however we’re yet to receive an email with our winnings, which leads me to believe the whole thing was rigged from the start. We finished watching the triathletes and wished it was ourselves then grabbed a spot of luncheon before we were due to meet our canyoning guide.
We were met by Alain our guide who we followed in the Jucy for about an hour which took you into the rain forest and one of the tributaries of Lake Wanaka. It was actually quite convenient that we did it over this way because this lead us on our way to the west coast where we would be heading back up north. The scenery looked very mysterious: the mountains were cloaked in emerald greens instead of the authoritative grey and but a few hundred meters up there was a screen of mist which withheld from your view the tips of what they were holding.
We pulled over, met our partners in crime, Debbie and Darragh, put on our wet gimp suits (as fashioned by myself in the pic below) and then trudged (uphill – which we really could have done without) through the forest as Alain showed us the way to the gorge and rapid white waters. For anyone who hasn’t been canyoning before, you effectively work your way down a small canyon via swimming, climbing, sliding, abseiling and jumping. It was cold and it was wet and the noise that the waterfalls make as they crash into the pits of water below is like the constant sound of a large percussion cymbal being played. Alain the guide was a lovely French bloke who was a bit cray cray but very sweet and easy going; he seemed to enjoy his job very much too. We had tremendous fun and although the GoPro’s battery didn’t last long Alain had given us a waterproof camera to take some stills which hopefully prove it to you. It took Mill less than 5 minutes in the ravine to lose one of Alain’s gloves which he’d provided us with. We watched as it set sail down stream never to be seen again – thankfully this was the only casualty for the afternoon.
After our activity laden afternoon we travelled through Haast’s pass – which was visually stunning and will have pics in the next blog as we were too tired to stop at the time so went back to explore the scenery the next day – and stopped at pretty much the first site we could find to tuck into a macaroni cheese delight for tea. Yummy.