Wanaka has proved to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life. There’s a big part of me that would love to come back in the winter time and get a job at one of the ski resorts. Sadly, I grew up an hour from Lake Tahoe, one of the best ski areas in the U.S., and never went skiing. I think it would be awesome to see this place in the winter with its snow-capped mountain peaks.
My final excursion in Wanaka was an off-road adventure to walk the Rob Roy Glacier track. I felt like a true mountain man as I drove off in the SUV that Lawry had lent me for the weekend. A little ways past town, the road became an unsealed “race track” for the SUV. Along the way, there were tons of tourists in little sedans, crawling along at a snail’s pace. I went flying by as the SUV gripped the gravel and growled, coming alive only after we’d left its pavement prison.
Arriving at the car park, I grabbed my camel pack and supplies and set out on the 4 hour return tramp. The first leg of the journey takes trampers through a stunning valley with mountains literally in every direction.
Up ahead there was a small bridge that crossed over the river. The bridge swayed just enough to turn my knuckles white as I gripped the railing. From there it was an hour and a half of consistent uphill climbing through a heavily forested mountainside. The track was quiet, shaded and peaceful. Occasionally the trees would break to reveal small glimpses of the stunning scene that awaited me.
At last I arrived at the top, rewarded by a magnificent panoramic display of snow, ice and waterfalls dancing atop the mountain. It’s becoming standard protocol: climb to the top of said track, marvel at the stunning view, and try unsuccessfully to find words to describe the experience. I will say, however, that this particular walk has been my favorite, the most scenic from start to finish so far in New Zealand.
On the way back home, I had barely left the parking lot when I saw a hitch hiker up ahead. It was approaching sunset and I couldn’t figure out where he’d come from in the first place. Since I’d been picked up only days earlier when I attempted hitch hiking, I knew it was my turn to pay it forward. I stopped and picked up Gill, who is from Israel. I’ve scarcely ever met or talked to an Israeli before. Right away, I found myself asking him about his beliefs. Over the next hour, we continued to have a fascinating discussion about faith and the meaning of life. It seems that Gill is on a soul-searching discovery of his own. We were able to relate on many issues and both found the conversation very refreshing.
No Kiwi adventure is complete without a good ol’ helping of fish n’ chips. We stopped in at the local shop and ordered up, then enjoyed our feast along the bank of the beautiful Lake Wanaka.
It was a day very well spent. In my opinion, this adventure only affirmed Wanaka’s boast of having “Life the way it should be.”