Click here for the NZ executive summary and other posts.
Wanaka to Franz Josef
We started the day with overcast sky, and sensing that rain would come soon, we hurriedly moved on to the day’s itinerary.
Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World is located just a mere 5 minutes drive from our hostel and it is one of the must-visit places in Wanaka.
Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World is a world unique attraction specialising in puzzling eccentricity. For over 35 years this remarkable business has entertained and amazed visitors of all ages attracted to this beautiful part of the world. Puzzling World offers the world’s first “3-D” Great Maze, incredible Illusion Rooms, a Puzzle Centre/Café, large Gift Shop, eccentric architecture and the intriguing Psychic Challenge.
It was a long and arduous journey along the tricky West Coast. The winding road constantly tested our patience, and we knew we just had to put 110% attention to the road.
We drove past Lake Hawea on our right but did not stop. After about an hour’s drive, at the northern end of Lake Wanaka, we stopped for a quick lunch at Makarora.
Continuing our journey, we stopped again after yet an hour’s drive, this time at Haast. At this point, we were up on the West Coast of South Island. The rain has stopped but it still looked gloomy as ever.
I must admit the scenery along West Coast is less scenic than most of the places in South Island as it looks more like our own coastal road. Adding more to boredom is the ridiculously straight road which makes us sleepy.
An hour and half later, we finally made it to Fox Glacier and did a detour to Lake Matheson, which is located 10 minutes away from the town.
Lake Matheson, near the Fox Glacier in South Westland, New Zealand, is famous for its reflected views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. A traditional mahinga kai (food gathering place) for Māori people, the lake contains long finned eel as well as being home to many water birds.
I wasn’t expecting a great view of Mount Cook from the lake because of the weather, but we took a walk anyway.
With a nice cafe overlooking the vast grassland where the cows are feeding on plus the snowy mountain range as the background, you can never get more relaxed than this. Seriously, if you ask me, I’d give up everything and stay here forever.
Lake Matheson takes about 20 minutes walk. On a good day, with the calm water on the lake, you can see the reflection of Mount Cook on the water, thus making it look heavenly. Luck wasn’t on our side on that evening but we were happy and satisfied to be able to make it thus far.
Returning to our car, it took a further 20 minutes before we finally made it to Franz Josef and immediately right after we did a small grocery shopping, we hurriedly checked in to our hostel and cooked up a storm for our dinner.
The rain resumed not too long after that, and before calling it a day, we took a short drive to Glacier Hot Pools, where we took a dip at the heated pool of glacier water. Just right before our most important activity of the trip the following day!