Wanaka, New Zealand (December 26th – 28th)

On the way from Franz Josef Glacier to Wanaka, we stopped in Fox Glacier, the next town south, and walked around Lake Matheson. I had planned to stay in Fox Glacier for a couple of days and would have done this hike. But, by sort of a happy mistake, I made a reservation at a hostel that I thought was in Fox Glacier but was actually in Franz Josef. Anyway, I was happy that we stopped to do this walk. If the water is still and there are no clouds, this lake gives a stunning reflection of Mount Cook.

Unfortunately, the lake wasn’t very still and there were some clouds when we visited this place but the view was still pretty amazing.

Partially clouded Mount Cook

 

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A display on eels apparently.

Being between Christmas and New Year, all the hostels are completely booked. And for some reason, I thought Stray stayed in Wanaka for two nights, but they only stay 1 night. So that means I was responsible for finding accommodation for my additional two nights…yikes! Ok, so when we arrived, I checked into my one night at Base Hostel in Wanaka which I highly DO NOT recommend. Mehhh…. Don’t stay there if you don’t have to.

I walked around to a few of the hostels nearby and all were booked. So I went to YHA and reserved a slightly expensive room for the next night.

December 27th

I didn’t do too awful much today. I felt pretty worn out still so I went to the beach and just laid down in the sun for a while.

Just a day chilling out at the Lake Wanaka beach.

Not much to see here.  :-p

It was such a beautiful day!

Sometime during the day, I bumped into my friend Tanner and talked about going to hike Roy’s Peak the next morning and asked if he wanted to come. He said he was planning to go later in the afternoon to catch sunset at the top and asked if I wanted to join. I thought that would be awesome so we made plans to get a shuttle to the trail at 6pm.

Caught the shuttle and drove the approximately 7km to the trail. The trail is about 5 miles of steep uphill. Almost right away, I’m panting and trying to suck oxygen but I still felt like I was going to die. I had to stop at the corners of the switchbacks a lot to try to catch my breath, to control my breathing and slow my heart rate and then continue. It was grueling. Tanner almost ran up the mountain, LOL. He was pretty good though and waited for me. He got up to the top a bit before sunset. I made it to almost the peak and was able to catch the sun just as it was going down behind the next mountain. I wouldn’t have gone up all the way to the peak of Roy’s Peak but Tanner was like “Come on!! If you don’t go you’ll only have hiked Roy’s hillside.” I couldn’t have that… so the short distance further he hiked back up with me. So yes, I did get to the peak of Roy’s Peak. At the top, I put on my warm wool sweater because it was really cold and windy and got out my super headlamp as it was going to get dark.

Heading back down the mountain, I had to be careful and treat my knees with respect as my right knee still hasn’t forgiven me for running Ragnar Relays not fully prepared. So, I had put on my Ace bandage on my one knee and used my trekking poles. Thankfully, I got back down the 5 mile-return just fine. We then walked the 7km back under the very moonlit and stary night to the hostel. I haven’t done a hike at dusk before but wow, that was incredible!!

Even just a short way up the mountain, the views were already beautiful.

Beautiful panorama of Lake Wanaka.

Up near the top…take a picture break.

That’s me over on the right hand side center area of the picture (arms outstretched).

Admiring the sunset colors.

Thanks to my friend Tanner for inviting me on this sunset hike and taking awesome photos!

Hiking the last few steps up to the peak.  I swear the air was a bit thinner up at the top.

December 28th

Didn’t really do much again today. Wandered around town and took only a few pictures.

Another day just chilling out.

Informational kiosks in town about what there is to do.

Yup… Wanaka is awesome.

The later afternoon of the 28th, I was in the reception/common area of Base Hostel (I got accommodation here for my last night in Wanaka thankfully), when the next Stray bus arrived and my friend that I met in Taupo (who I went to see the new Star Wars movie with – George – was on it!!! 🙂 I wasn’t quite sure our Stray schedules would meet again since he had stayed longer in a couple other places.

We spent some time catching up and talking about our travels between Taupo and Wanaka. We got ice cream at this place called Patagonia Chocolates. I don’t know what it was, but that chocolate ice cream in that waffle cone was the most phenomenally delicious ice cream I’ve had in a very long time. It was so good!!

It was this evening, that we hatched our epic plan: both of us wanted to do one of the New Zealand Great Walks (http://www.doc.govt.nz/great-walks) but neither of us wanted to try one alone since neither of us had done one before.  George asked if I wanted to join forces and do one together and right away I was all in!! Heck yes I want to do one!! So, we talked about what date we should push our next Stray bus back to and initially it was January 9th. So early the next morning (on the 29th) I went to check the Stray bus schedule and there was a bus available on the 9th. So I went to change my date back to January 2nd until I could confirm with George that we were actually going to do this and I couldn’t change it back. It said the bus was full! Crap! I hope George doesn’t back out! :-/

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