I have so few words for this day, but I’m going to give it a go. We put our little Yaris to the test yet again, venturing out to Mount Aspiring National Park (Te Wahipounamu), an astounding world of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes. I was absolutely and completely blown away by this stunningly picturesque part of New Zealand, every inch of it rendering me speechless. Because of this, I’m going to let my pictures do most of the talking, still knowing they don’t do this piece of paradise an ounce of justice.
There are a few different tracks you can take out this way, and they range from around 2-5 hours however I had never seen a glacier in real life before so was completely sold on this particular one. My sister had driven out that way before and knew there was loads to see, including being able to get up close to one of the many waterfalls that cascade down the craggy mountain faces.
Having driven out there for myself now, I would say to choose your vehicle carefully. The sealed roads end almost as soon as you arrive, and for a good 40 minutes (maybe more) you are traveling on loose gravel. Having a rental car meant we spent most of the scenic drive sitting at 30-40km/h. Slow and incredibly tedious (and a little nerve-raking), especially once you start to hit one ford after another. Our car was definitely not meant for off road! (It miraculously survived the journey with only a few minor scrapes from flying stones – windscreen and tyres in tact! Ashlea did an amazing job navigating this trip).
The first hour of the hike out to the Glacier was a bit of a challenge, being predominantly uphill. It’s a steady incline though, and knowing what awaits you at the other end together with the beautiful scenery around you constantly catching you off guard means you absolutely power through. We wandered through beech forest along rocky paths, the ‘walls’ covered in fuzzy moss and ferns, while water trickled down into small streams and tiny natural ponds. We looked out over large drops and dips in the valleys, as that remarkable blue water flowed along in rivers down below.
As we drew closer to the first look out, the temperature changed dramatically and suddenly. One moment we were walking along a little hot under our collars, the next it was as if we walked right into a commercial fridge! A little chill ran down my spine – still not sure if it was the drop in degrees Celsius or the inexplicable rush of anticipation I felt. I think I’ll go for a bit of both. As we finally reached our destination, we were not disappointed!
Despite being a fair way off in the distance still, from that vantage point you could still make out the jagged rocks and blue ice that made up the glacier (the zoom on my little Olympus could only do so much. Kicking myself I left my Canon behind, but it would have weighed a tonne by the end of that hike). The wind picked up the snow that had settled and blew it along the mountain top, looking like a bright white sand storm. It’s beauty completely drew you in and I wanted so badly to be closer, but the next look out was another half hour’s walk and we were losing light, so we decided to admire from a little further afar.
As we took the long drive back, we couldn’t believe our luck as we passed by a rainbow reflecting in one of the gorgeous waterfalls. It remains one of my favourite photos from the trip – this place just kept on delivering one wow after another! Further along we hit a little…traffic… with a mammoth herd of cattle making their way over the road to a neighboring field. Cows are a little intimidating to my sister, so she was in a fit of nervous giggles in the back seat. Ash and I were in hysterics – this really was one of the most incredible days, and I felt so blessed to have been able to share it with them both!
- Mount Aspiring National Park is approximately an hours drive out of Wanaka, along the State Highway 6 and it is absolutely without question worth a visit.
*Video coming soon!