Glenbrook, on State Highway 8, on the way between Wanaka and Lake Pukaki.
Heading south, our next destination was Wanaka. It was approx. 270km away from Fox Glacier. The trip led us to State Highway 6, on another stretch of the scenic neo zealander roads, crossing the middle of Mount Aspiring National Park.
This stretch would take about 3h30 of travel, but as in New Zealand there is always something fantastic along the way, we made 2 stops:
Thunder Creek Falls
Thunder Creek Falls, in State Highway 6, no Mount Aspiring National Park.
Thunder Creek Falls is a 96m high waterfall that supplies Haast River. The waterfall is 170km from the city of Fox Glacier. The parking lot is located on the side of the highway itself. The sign is very discreet so it’s very easy to pass by it unnoticed. From the parking lot, there’s a 5min walk to the waterfall. The path goes by an easy and demarcated trail.
A section of Haast River, where Thunder Creek Falls flows.
Blue Pools – natural pools of crystal blue water, from the melting glaciers of Mount Aspiring National Park.
Continuing for another 20km along the SH6 towards the south, you will find another interesting stopping point: the Blue Pools.
The Blue Pools are natural pools of transparent water from Makarora River. The river runs along a stretch parallel to the SH6 road, and ends at Lake Wanaka.
The crystal blue waters of Blue Pools, also called Makarora Pools, have this color because they come from melting glaciers from the top of Mount Aspiring. Due to its glacial origin, swimming in the Blue Pools can be very dangerous. Low temperatures can reduce or even stop your body’s movements. I’d suggest taking it as a contemplative place.
Blue Pools – Photo taken on the same day as the previous photo – evidence of how lighting affects the look and color of the water.
As in Thunder Creek, to visit the Blue Pools, you will see the parking lot right next to the road. The trail from the parking lot to the natural pools is about 20 minutes passing through a beautiful forest covered with moss.
City of Wanaka, South Island of New Zealand
Following SH6 for another hour, we arrived at Wanaka.
Wanaka is a charming town located at the southern end of Lake Wanaka. The city is close to Mount Aspiring National Park, and offers a variety of activities for each season. On lakewanaka.co.nz you can find more information.
Wanaka is very popular in winter due to its ski resort. Although in the summer it also receives many tourists who use the lake for water sports.
Lake Wanaka – an excellent place to practice water sports, or even to relax and have a picnic.
Wanaka is certainly a destination for any season, even if it is just to relax in front of the lake and admire the landscape.
We used the city of Wanaka as a base to visit other beautiful New Zealand lakes, like Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo. To head towards these 2 lakes, you need to take State Highway 8.
The path between Wanaka and Pukaki passes through the scenic Lindis Pass landscape and the Glenbrook area.
Brook in the Lindis Pass region
Lake Pukaki, New Zealand – in the background, you can see Mount Cook.
Lake Pukaki, along with Tekapo and Ohau lakes, form a cluster of alpine lakes on the South Island of New Zealand. The 3 lakes are shaped by the melting of glaciers. Its shape and color are associated with the movement of glacial debris that blocked the valleys, preventing the water from flowing.
Lake Pukaki is the largest, and is also the closest to Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. Mount Cook is New Zealand’s highest point. For those interested in hiking in Mount Cook National Park, it’s worth checking out the options on NZ’s government offical website. To make the longer trails, a good option is to use the city of Twizel as a base.
Lake Pukaki, New Zealand
When you take State Highway 8 (SH8), right next to Twizel, you’ll naturally pass by Lake Pukaki, from where you already have a beautiful view. But it’s worthwhile to enter State Highway 80, and go on to Peter’s Lookout, a viewpoint almost in the center of the lake.
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Driving for another 50km on SH8, you’ll find Lake Tekapo, how is called the small town on the edge of Lake Tekapo. Lake Tekapo has an incredible view, with its turquoise blue water in the mountains of the Southern Alps.
As we were in autumn time, the yellowed trees next to the blue Lake Tekapo formed a beautiful and colorful landscape.
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
At the top of the hill is the Church of the Good Shephard, a friendly chapel with a view to Lake Tekapo and the mountains of the Southern Alps.
Church of the Good Shepard, capela em frente ao Lago Tekapo. De dentro se tem uma vista para o lago com as montanhas ao fundo.
Close to Lake Tekapo is Mount John Observatory, a place where astronomical tours are made to observe the stars. To arrive at the observatory, a fee of NZD 8.00 per car is charged. Unfortunately we were unable to go but we heard that it is worth visiting the place even in the daytime as the view is wonderful.