No matter how beautiful a region is, at some stage we have to move on. There are things to see between Wanaka and Fox Glacier. There are several scenic highlights on this route and here are just a few of them. You may also want to check out some South Island itineraries with Wanaka and Fox Glacier.
Lake Wanaka Lookout “The Neck”.
Our first stop was at the “The Neck” between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. Over the last ice age two vast glaciers covered those lakes. The part in between – ‘The Neck’ – was the separator between those ice fields. Hard to imagine now, but there’s a good spot where you can safely pull over and take photographs from the lookout. At times this location is busy with travellers, so watch out for people walking all over the place!
During the busy busy season, you’ll probably find yourself jostling with other travellers with exactly the same idea, but in this country it doesn’t take long to find some breathing space and this is where you can find it. The beauty of New Zealand is lots of space, especially in the South Island. Especially if you are travel off the peak season.
In the peak summer season, choose how you stop, wisely. Don’t take photos on a bend in the road and I beg you, DO NOT stop in the middle of a busy scenic major road to study a map! Yes, hard to believe people would do this, but we’ve seen it with our own eyes.
New Zealand roads are generally well maintained and occasionally you’ll come across roadwork gangs. This usually means only a 5 minute wait. Today, our stop was brief, mainly due to this entertaining worker. We enjoyed his deep bows and exaggerated movements as he waved us through.
After a brief toilet stop at Makaroa, a 1 hour’s drive from Wanaka, we headed to the well-known “Blue Pools” on SH6 in the Aspiring National Park. This has become a major attraction for visitors. So, expect a few people around and watch out at the car park for walkers!
Blue Pools Forest Walk
The forest walk to the Blue Pools is so refreshing and easy – Rifleman and Fantail birds flit around waiting for the small bugs you disturb with your feet.
The walkway is well maintained and the swing bridge is manageable for everyone.
The views are superb! You’ll see the purest blue water stretching out towards the Makaroa River.
So many angles with totally different views.
Back in the car, we headed through to the Haast Bridge, an impressive crisscross of steel girders – beautifully designed and very sturdy.
Waiatoto River Safaris River Tour
We entered the lush-green West Coast region and travelled south of the Haast Village to the starting point of Waiatoto River Safaris. This fabulous tour should definitely be included in your things to see between Wanaka and Fox Glacier. The tour takes about 2.5 hours and travels into a remote world heritage area . Today we met co-owner and tour operator, Ruth Allanson.
Making good use of the fantastic West Coast weather, we stopped at Shipwreck Creek for an easy stroll along a boardwalk to the beach. We missed out Monroe Beach (rare penguins to be seen at the right time of the year) but managed to stop at the Knights Point Lookout. Once again, it was sensory overload.
To get a general idea on what you can do in the South Island…
Knights Point Lookout
From here we passed Lake Moeraki and Lake Paringa. It was such a ‘breeze’ to drive this part of the South Island with little traffic and spectacular scenery. Finally we passed the tiny settlements of Bruce Bay and Jacobs Creek before entering the Fox Glacier Village.
Lake Matheson near Fox Glacier
After a quick shower we headed out for dinner at Lake Matheson before completing a tranquil evening walk. Strolling around the lake sure is a great way to end a perfect day of discovering the things to see between Wanaka and Fox Glacier.
Going further north from Fox to Nelson you might want to check out the second part of the West Coast travel journey here.
Happy travelling the South Island between Wanaka and Fox Glacier!