This is the third post (3 of 7) of a series on our two-week road trip in New Zealand’s South Island. If you missed the last post, you can read it here.
Next morning, we did a short hike up a rugged terrain of Fox Glacier Valley. Then we drove down the West Coast and headed inland over Haast Pass toward Wanaka.
Shortly after Haast Pass, we stopped at Blue Pools. The parking lot was full when we arrived. We were considering continuing to Wanaka when a spot was available, so we parked our JUCY. A walk down to Blue Pools, though easy, was longer and had some elevation loss and gain more than what an information sign suggested. It was a nice stop to stretch our legs.
When we got back to the parking lot, I noticed that I had been bitten on my legs and ankles by sandflies. After Blue Pools, we continued to Wanaka. The scenery along the road was beautiful. The highway followed the eastern shore of Lake Wanaka for a while, then cut to the left to follow the western shore of Lake Hawea. Both Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea were formed by glacial activities and are impressively large in size.
We arrived in Wanaka in mid afternoon. Since I planned a hike in Mount Aspiring National Park the next day, we booked two nights at a holiday park in Wanaka. It was a hot afternoon in Wanaka, so we made it an easy evening and just hung out at the park. Next morning with a combination of not feeling energetic and a forecast of hot and sunny weather later in the day, we decided to forgo a long hike in the national park and opted for exploring Wanaka’s lakeshore and hiking a shorter trail up Iron Mountain.
Well. The decision to tag on a hike up Iron Mountain after exploring the lakeshore wasn’t a great idea. It really was a hot day of walking in town. By the time we got to the Iron Mountain Trailhead, we were hot, exhausted, and low on water. Looking up at how high we had to climb in the heat of the day almost had us cancel the hike. But after sitting in the shade to cool down for a while, we decided to give it a go. Fortunately, there was a toilet with a drinking water fountain so we tanked up and refilled water bottles.
The Iron Mountain Trail was very scenic. The view of Lake Wanaka got better the higher we climbed. The trail wasn’t crowded at all. I think we saw about 10 people on our hike. After having a sandwich at the summit, we returned to the trailhead and headed back to the holiday park.
The spots on my legs and ankles that were bitten by sandflies started to itch. I was grateful for steroid cream and extra antihistamine pills that we brought with us. Little did we know at the time that this was just the beginning of our troubles with sandflies.