We finished our hike at Aoraki around noon and drove south along the alps until we reached Wanaka [location]. This is the route to the west coast, indeed, the only route this far south, but nonetheless we bypass the entire Fiordland and Southland regions. They are gorgeous, I’m told, but with our limited time (and a severe weather warning for deep snow in that region) we skipped it on this trip. Read on!
We stayed overnight at Wanaka, but first stopped in at Puzzling World, a fun place with illusions and puzzles and a giant, two-story outdoor maze. It was great fun and we spent two hours working our way through the maze. We reached all four corners – which was the goal – but never did properly find our way back out of the maze. (We had to duck under a wall at one point, as it was getting dark.)
The drive west from Wanaka was spectacular, rugged snow-capped peaks presiding over deep lake valleys and dry grassland. Then over the Haast pass, where we were suddenly struck with the effects of rainshadow: rainforest (see photo). The rainfall on the west of the alps is something like 7m per year, whereas east of the alps it may only be 1m. (I need to verify these figures).
Down the other side, we stopped at Thunder Creek falls, very impressive, and at the confluence of the Haast river with the Landsborough river for one more look at the rugged wilderness. Next: the west coast. Meanwhile, check out the photo gallery!
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