On a whim, I decided to take a solo road trip to the West Coast of New Zealand and visit Franz Josef Glacier. The drive from Wanaka was about six hours (with a few stops along the way!), as there are some worthwhile sights along the way.
First stop: Blue Pools. Blue Pools is just off of the Haast Highway and is a short walk across a bridge to beautiful turquoise pools of glacier fed water. The Makarora and Blue rivers meet here, and are home to brown and rainbow trout. The color reminded me of the Caribbean Sea – a little reminder of home.
I stopped off for one more short trek to a beautiful waterfall, which was highlighted by a rainbow.
Then I reached the coast and my heart was full. The sound of the unruly waves and endless horizon were exactly what I needed.
I spent the night at the Glowworm Hostel in Franz Josef. Being that it was early June, town was pretty quiet. I chatted up a few girls and we headed out for dinner and drinks in town, but I was in bed by 10 PM. I hiked to Franz Josef Glacier in the morning. The trail is pretty easy and flat, and you are greeted by beautiful waterfalls. Once I reached the glacier, I enjoyed a quiet meditation.
I also checked out Peter’s Pool, a short walk well worth the view. Peter’s Pool is a kettle lake, formed by a ice block left behind the glacier’s withdrawal. Being that it was off season, I had the pool all to myself.
The following morning I hiked Alex Knobb Trail, a 10.5 mile roundtrip hike. The track is steep and challenging, and the top of the mountain had ice and snow. I was walking along the ridge and felt very unstable walking on the ice and snow. I ended up turning back a quarter of a mile before the official summit since I had a strong feeling I’d fall off the mountain if I continued onward. The views were obscured by a huge cloud, but that is the risk you take this time of year. I am sure it is absolutely amazing when the clouds clear, but the weather was not on my side that day. I did snap this photo of the glacier halfway up the trek and found a heart tree.
I left to return to Wanaka that day and drove over to Fox Glacier, which was also obscured by clouds. I continued on my journey and drove the five hours back to Wanaka and caught this gorgeous sunset.
It was a lovely and short getaway, and I was happy to check off my first road trip in my new car! This will be the first of many road trips, and I am excited to continue exploring the South Island after I finish my winter season in Wanaka.
Wanaka has been a beautiful and welcoming home, and I cannot believe I have been here for three and a half months already. I work at one of the top restaurants in town called Kika, and we have a great crew. I have decided to move to part-time at the restaurant so that I may enjoy my last month and a half here in Wanaka. I want to take a few more road trips to places like Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound, and explore more of the West Coast. I am still working at the equestrian center part time, and I teach yoga once a week. I have a lovely group of regulars who come to my weekly yoga class. They radiate positivity and I always feel inspired after we practice together.
Skiing at Treble Cone has been EPIC lately. We’ve had some nice dumps of snow and plenty of powder days! My friends have taken me on hikes up the summit to ski fresh powder and have helped encourage me to try advanced terrain. Hollywood Bowl and the Motatapu Chutes are my favorite runs and have really built up my confidence and my skiing has improved. I have to admit it was really challenging to wrap my head around a second winter, but I am glad that I challenged myself to go outside of my comfort zone. We are going to Ohau this weekend to celebrate my friend’s birthday and I am excited to try another ski area!
Here’s the latest update on my travel plans: I’ve decided to spend October in Australia exploring the Gold Coast, Sydney, Cairns, and Brisbane. I’ll then meet some friends on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands for a ten days stay to celebrate a few birthdays. You can only imagine how excited I am to go to the beach (and how bummed I am that I only have TWO bikinis…I originally wanted to bring eight!) I fly back to New Zealand in mid-November where I will start my South Island road trip and then make my way to the North Island for the summer. While it’s been amazing living in Wanaka, I am beyond excited to start traveling again!!!!!!