The mountains are calling and I must go. – John Muir
From our Wanaka base, we headed west, the clouds above clearing with blue skies giving us confidence this day was a good day to climb.
Pulling into the car park, we layered up and set off with haste. The crisp autumn air hit our lungs fast as we set off with a brisk pace, and by the time we drew closer to Diamond Lake our chests ached a little from the cold. Taking a moment by the lake, I took a note of how tranquil and quiet the area was and how still the water. Fairly sheltered, there wasn’t a ripple on the lake, but for a few when a family of ducks flew down and settled on top.
Wanting to make good time, we pushed forward, the track climbing steeply up until we were rewarded with a slight reprieve on the viewing platform above the lake.
As the sun rose and the incline increased we grew hot and jackets came off, then almost as quickly went back on as we found ourselves in shaded sections of the hike – the temperature dropping noticeably. The landscape changed as often as the temperature with the views giving us a new perspective at each turn in the path.
We continued along the upper level circuit, that wound its way to the top of the 775 m Rocky Mountain. Reaching the peak was truly captivating – the fresh air filling our lungs before the view took it away again. We sat down and took a few moments to catch our breath, rest our legs and take in the surroundings. Looking out at the clear blue skies, crisp lakes and rugged mountains including the Southern Alps (Kā Tiritiri o te Moana) and Mount Aspiring (Tititea).
The walk down was a little more relaxed (if slightly treacherous with a few hazardous steps) and we were now having a bit of fun with the hike, no longer feeling pressed to reach the summit.
The vast and commanding landscapes in this part of New Zealand are unbelievably captivating. A long hike is made even longer for all of the times you’re stopped in your tracks along the way – not wanting to pass by an inch of the stunning scenery and not take it all in. It reminds us of just how small we are individually and gives us a renewed perspective on different aspects of our lives. It also reminds us of what we have to lose if we don’t reduce our global footprint and begin to clean up our act, our attitudes and in turn our wonderful planet. We should count ourselves so unbelievably lucky to be able to explore places such as this – it’s not our right as human beings but our privilege, and it’s my hope that many future generations share that same privilege. I’m a big believer in responsible tourism and in respecting the many incredible parts of the world we’re able to visit – New Zealand in particular has some of the most incredible nature on earth, so let’s keep it that way and share it with respect and mindfulness.