Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lake Wanaka

Day 1:  Tuesday Feb 16, 2010

After a long day on the bus, everyone was pretty tired, but with so much to do around this beautiful scenic lake and not much time, Konrad and I decided to make the most of it.  There were heaps of walking tracks around Lake Wanaka, each of them providing great views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

We trekked about 2km outside of town to the start of the hike, Mount Iron Scenic Reserve.  It was a steep constant 30 minute climb to the summit.  Was fairly exhausted as it was quite warm today. The view of the lake was great and was a great spot for some panoramic photos.

After the hike we were sweating pretty good, so we headed into the Lake for a cool off.  A bit chilly but so nice, so clear, so blue, so refreshing.

After we went to the nearby New World grocery store and stocked up.  The hostel we stayed at was the YHA Purple Cow, maybe the best hostel yet.  It had a unblocked lake view and was the perfect place to relax and just look out onto the lake. I'de immagine it would also be a great winter time lodge as there were several fire places around the hostel. Can't beat a lake view for $21 NZ dollars a night. A hotel with a view like this in the states would run for atleast $150 a night.

Anyhow, Konrad, another German girl Nadine and I made dinner together at the hostel. We made pasta bolognese and had a great garden salad.  We had dinner out on the deck of the hostel of course gazing out to Lake Wanaka.

As it got later, a group of us headed down to the lakeside with our pack of Steinlager beer and made a night out of talking, drinking and looking up at the stars.

Day 2:  Wednesday Feb 17, 2010

The morning of today was dedicated to a bit of sleep, was able to sleep past 9 oclock for the first time in who knows how long, it felt great. After the sleep, Konrad and I had big plans for the day, a 8 hour return hike to Roy's Peak.

We were misinformed on the length of the hike, as well as the difficulty level so we really thought nothing of it as we woke up a bit out of it from the previous night and with a late start to the day.

I can tell you know that it ended up being one of the most strenuous, long, yet best hike of my entire life.

We left the hostel around 12:15 and ended up having to walk 6 kilometers down the road just to get to the hikes entrance.  Anyhow, when we got there, the peak sure looked high.

About 10 minutes into the hike we both had to stop and grab our waters and catch our breaths, the track was one hell of an incline.  I only packed 1 litre of water as well, will discuss more on this a bit later. The path itself was a old tractor road and was pretty wide.  It wouldn't be a true New Zealand mountain path without heaps of sheep shit on it. The entire hike up and down were remnants of sheep dung as the hill was owned by the local farmer that happened to have heaps of sheep. I gave up a few minutes in trying to actually avoid every sheep dropping on the path.

Since it was a steep climb, were gained height relatively quick and the Lake below was getting farther and farther away from us, yet every time we looked up at the top of the peak it just looked miles and miles away, and it was.

When I say it was a steady climb, I mean it, not one area of flat track or downhill, a constant climb, making it maybe the most difficult hike I have ever done. I keep on comparing hikes to Half Dome, the reason for that is I believe that has been my greatest hiking feat in my life. The difference with halfdome is that the track to the top often leveled out in the valleys, this track never leveled out.  The climb to the top of Roy's peak was a whopping 1300 meters high and 8 kms long. Parts of the hike made you question your choice to wake up that morning and do a hike, it made every single lower body muscle scream for help, and questioned the will to go on. Regardless if I am out of shape or not, this hike would be demanding on any fitness level. But with all perserverance in life, the outcome seems to be always worth it. The hike was great for a full view of Lake Wanaka, which we had the entire climb up, but is better known for its view of the nearby Mount Aspiring. It would not be possible to see it until we made it to the top, and may have been the only motivation for me as I trekked on the gruelling climb. As Konrad and I inched closer to the peak, we mustered up some final energy to run to the top. What a feeling as we came over the final hump and were glistened with the majestic Mount Aspiring and its sno topped peaks. It was like something I never experienced before, pure bliss maybe you could call it. It was special. After the 3 hour straight climb, we soaked in every view the top had to offer as we ate our lunch literally on top of the mountain.

Legends of the Mountain

It almost felt like being out of a movie as we walked along the ridge of the mountain top, very Lord of the Ring-esq i thought. Sheer mountain cliffs to the left or right of you and just a small path to work on on the mountains ridge.

It sure was an amazing sight.  A full 360 view of the surrounding majestic mountain ranges and Lake Wanaka. This is another example of pictures not doing justice for the situation.  The pictures didn't endure the hell that was the hike, it was me and only me and I was greatly rewarded for my accomplisment and it made the experience on the top all the better. But with that said, the pictures are still very very sweet.

After spending about an hour on top, we made our way back down the long and winding track.  The hard part was done, no more uphill. I mentioned before I only had packed 1 litre of water. I had finished all my water before reaching the peak.  I was super thirsty and Konrad was out too. We ended up finding a stream on the way down, which we found a bit odd as it hadn't rained in a few days and there was no snow on the top.  Using our survival minds, Konrad and I decided it may be ok to drink, as it was coming out of the ground. It was so cold and tasted so refreshing. It was a bit discoloured but as Im writing this its been almost a week and I feel great. It kinda just added to the epic hike. We absolutely owned it. As we were going back down, I constantly laughed at how steep the track was and could not believe we had just climbed it. What was more baffling was when we reached back down to the bottom and we looked back up at the peak we just conquered.  CRAAZZY.  

At this point, we were absolutely exhausted, blisters on our feet, and soreness already kickin it. The 6 km walk down the road back to the town was not something either of us wanted. So testing our hitch hiking luck again we put up our thumbs. First car that passed picked us up, what a relief. We were picked up by a Kiwi couple, super nice.  The car ride saved us an extra 6 kms and 1 hour walking time. In total, we hiked around 21 kms and took a little over 7 hours. Very very impressive.

Maybe even more impressive was that I still had some energy to cook my german friends some tacos. Being German, they don't really have Mexican food very often. Although I consider myself a pretty good taco maker, they absolutely loved it. Made me happy seeing them enjoy them.

Day 3:  Thurday Feb 18, 2010

Woke up pretty sore today, but filled with a great sense of accomplishment from the day before. It was raining a bit today and had till 230 till the bus came to pick us up. We went to the nearby tourist attraction, Puzzling World. Puzzling world was filled with several illusion rooms, a giant maze, and you guessed it, puzzles.

We were able to make way around the attraction without having to pay, always good for a backpacker budget. The illusion rooms were pretty cool, some reminded me of Santa Cruz'z mystery spot. Bunch of mind games. The maze was pretty cool. Took us about 45 minutes to finish. It was a good way to spend the last hours in Wanaka.

Takin a load off with the Romans

Great Maze

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