A hikers paradise, Mt Aspiring National Park offers a large number of incredible walks – through beautiful valleys, traversing mountain sides and along river circuits. With hikes lasting a number of hours to a few days, there are also some short walks available to those of us less seasoned hikers. One of these is the Blue Pools Walk.
With access to the walk a little over an hour from Wanaka, on the road to the West Coast, a scenic and winding route takes you past Lake Hawea and the tail end of Lake Wanaka. With plenty of stopping bays along the way, jump out, stretch your legs and take in as much of the gorgeous mountainous scenery as possible! Once you pass through the tiny town of Makarora, keep your eyes peeled for the Blue Pools sign (it’s easily missed), as no more than 8km along the road you’ll find parking bays to your right and the entrance to the walk on your left.
Leading you through silver beech forest, the 30 minute (return) walk takes you over a swing bridge and across narrow wooden walk ways before reaching a viewing platform that overlooks the mouth of the magnificent pools.
If you’re planning a visit, try your best to visit on a sunny day (hopefully mother nature is on your side). The amount of light that hits these gorgeous pools will affect their colour and the sunnier the day, the bluer (and clearer) the water will be! People have seen it all shades of blues and greens and you’ll likely see them a different colour each time you visit.
In the autumn and winter months, large rainbow and brown trout migrate up the Makarora River from Lake Wanaka, and can often be seen swimming in the water at the Blue Pools. If you manage to spot them, admire them from the shore, keeping in mind that fishing in the pools is not allowed.
With water coming straight from the glacier, it is crystal clear and exceedingly cold! Those brave enough to take the plunge and jump into these icy pools will have the breath knocked out of them once they hit the water. The water so numbing you’ll find it tricky to swim with rigid limbs recovering from the shock of the dive. Once they do manage to get out they then need to then contend with hundreds (even thousands) of sand flies that inhabit the area. Much worse than mosquitoes, be prepared to be bitten 100 times over by these pesky insects! (Having some repellent nearby would be a good idea).
Despite all of that, I still have a jump on my list for a summer time visit! I applaud (and also shake my head in disbelief) at those three visitors crazy enough to dive in on the day we visited, braving the cold Autumn air.