Saturday, August 13, 2011

Haast Pass and Wanaka

I know, it's been a week since my last post.

But I have to admit, as we get close to the end of our time in New Zealand, life in Austin has been creeping in.  And as I'm getting mentally ready to go home, it gets harder to write about our New Zealand adventures.

But, I do have to play catch up on some of our adventures.

In my last post, I mentioned that we leaving the glaciers and on our way south through the Haast Pass.  Choosing the Haast Pass turned out to be a good plan, since a storm had come in from the west and was dumping snow up north on Arthur's Pass - our northbound option.  But the south option was open.  This may seem weird, since you'd expect the southern pass to be colder and get more antarctic weather, but Arthur's Pass is the highest elevation pass in New Zealand.  So it might get snow earlier than the lower-elevation Haast.

As we left Franz Josef, the rain turned to snow and started sticking to the roads.  But just as we started to really worry about our drive, we went back down a hill and the roads were clear.  Then back up and got snow, then back down and found clear roads.  This continued three or four times, but after about 45 minutes, we had clear roads for the rest of our drive.

So, the Haast Pass is great.  If you're into waterfalls, snow covered mountains, picturesque scenery and all that.
Waterfall in Haast Pass 
In Haast Pass, first view of Lake Wanaka
Then, we got to Wanaka.  Wanaka is a lot like Queenstown minus the "tourism steroids".  It's a quiet place that seems to be mostly a launching pad for skiing and heli-skiing adventures.  We stayed there on our way back home, but instead of adventure tourism, we just let the kids catch up on playground and playtime that they were missing with all of our driving.
Lake Wanaka at Sunrise
Dinosaur Playground in Downtown Wanaka
Girls Playing on the Beach
After spending the night in Wanaka, we headed back towards Christchurch by covering the path back through Lindis Pass and  Lake Tekapo.  It was interesting to see it all with slightly less snow.  The roadside spot at Lindis Pass where I got snow up to my thighs a month ago was grass-covered four weeks later.
Lindis Pass Early July
Lindis Pass Early August

Once we got home, we managed to obtain deliverance from Hell.  And then we had to say goodbye to Chris' wonderful goddaughter, who took a break from her semester in Australia to have an adventure with us.

And then we've been back adventuring in Christchurch.  We are hoping to try skiing one last time tomorrow, so I need to go make sure that all the snow gear is clean and ready.

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