Wanaka was our next stop after Queenstown. A small village at a beautiful lake in the Alps. We took the time to spend there one afternoon and night for some relaxing at the beach and swimming in the lake. Ánd to cook a monstrous amount of pasta with bolognese sauce (done by master chef Patrik in the big kitchen of YHA Wanaka) to bring to Fox Glacier and Arthur’s Pass, because we knew we would have active hiking days there and not much available to buy. We also rented a kayak on lake Wanaka, quite a bit more relaxed paddling than on the wavy sea in Abel Tasman.
The way to Fox Glacier led us along beautiful blue lakes, creeks and waterfalls. So we made many steps on the road where, how is that possible, met a few times our driver/guide to Milford Sound. And he recognized us! Kiwis are usually very welcoming and friendly people.
We did a day-long hike on Fox Glacier. After a walk through the rain forest (yes, a rain forest), we got crampons under our shoes and started our climb on the ice. We passed under-ice water falls and a very narrow ice tunnel, where we managed to crawl through. Not without getting completely soaked, though. The guide said that the ice was so dynamic that the tunnel will have completely collapsed within a week. We climbed up to more or less half of the total glacier height, which could be pretty steep at times. Spectacular and very exciting to explore this dynamic ice mass so up close.
The day after we had a look at Fox Glacier’s twin brother: Franz Joseph. This glacier has retreated so much lately that the lower parts are not safe for walking anymore. It is a lot steeper than Fox Glacier, and quite a bit shorter too. But it has similar blue and white ice structure and sharp peaks of ice.
In Arthur’s Pass National Park, situated around one of the three passes that cross the Southern Alps from east to west, we decided to go for a day walk to the summit of Avalanche Peak. Or a climb, better to say, and quite a climb: 1100m of steep elevation to the summit at 1833m. But we made it! The view from that high was fantastic: 360 degrees of (snow-capped) mountain tops around us. The way down was, although less strenuous, even more difficult. But we arrived safely down and just enjoyed beer, wine and a good pasta bolognese meal.