South Island Road Trip - Vol. 2

Day 3 was meant to involve mainly travelling from Wanaka to Fox glacier. Little did we know that driving along the Haast scenic highway would be one of the highlights of our road trip. The road follows an ancient trail used by Maori travelling to the West Coast in search of jade/nephrite, called Tiora-patea, meaning "The way is clear". The road might be a bit challenging if you are not a confident driver but believe me when I say that the views are spectacular.

First stop was at Blue Pools. We speed walked to the pools in about 7-10 mins, through a beautiful ancient forest and then a swing bridge which crosses the Makarora River. Followed a timber footpath to a second bridge and there it was: the majestic Blue Pools. The glacier-fed water in these deep pools is the colour of deep azure blue, and it is so clear that you can see right to the bottom, making the resident brown trout look like they are suspended in the air.

I’ll let my photos below do the talking…

Path to Blue Pools

Next stop was Fantail falls and the 96-metre tall Thunder Creek falls, tumbling into the Haast River. We hiked through the woods for a bit, hearing the falls getting louder and louder as we went. Then there was a quick glimpse through the trees, and suddenly we were out of the trees and there the falls were, cascading down into stunning blue water!

Fantail falls

Thunder Creek falls

Our plan was to drive straight to Fox after seeing the Falls, but when in New Zealand you just can’t think like this, there is always something along the way that will make you want to stop and admire. Just a quick glimpse on the west coast and we were hooked! Hemmed in by the wild Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps, the wild coastline was open handedly giving a feeling of total remoteness.

Bruce Bay

We managed to hit Fox right before sunset. The next day our Heli-hike to the glacier was scheduled so an early night in was an absolute necessity, but more on this adventure on next week’s post.