Friday, 9 March 2012

Haast-a la vista!

The sun was out (it always is on a driving day!) as we left Wanaka and drove along the banks of Lake Hawea, Wanaka's 'little' next door neighbour.

Hawea the lads

I think its called sunshine. Can't remember

We weaved our way around the lake and through a couple of backward looking towns up into the mountains. Our 5 hour drive to the glaciers took us up and over the Haast Pass, named after Julius Von Haast, a Dutch explorer and geologist. The pass road follows an ancient trail used by Maori travelling to the West Coast in search of pounamu, sacred green stone. The name for the trail was Tiora-patea, meaning "The way is clear". The Haast Pass is the lowest pass across the Main Divide (HASL 563m) and was only sealed in tarmac in 1995, being a gravel road before this point.



Our first stop of the day was Fantail falls. Although we had probably seen enough waterfalls on our trip everyone told us these were spectacular. They were OK.

A few miles later and we saw a sign for Thunder Creek Falls - with that name we just couldn't resist.

The actual Haast Pass is just a very small section of road that crosses the divide. In fact it was so small we missed it!

On the other side we did have a great view though!

The other side

Just before we got to Haast Township (miles from the Haast Pass!) we were greeted with another awesome view through the river valley.

Ahhhhh - blue sky!

We pulled over for some lunch at Ship Creek - a wild and windy stretch of beach. It got its name thanks to a British ship 'Shomberg', which struck the Australian coast and sank. Pieces of the hull crossed the Tasman Sea and beached here. Drift-wood is strewn all over the beach but after a minute or two the battering we were getting from the sand forced us back inside the van.

Accidently, I managed to get a picture of a Dolphin (in the middle)!

More drift-tree than just drift-wood
We briefly stopped at Knights Point - not much more to say!
Knights Point viewpoint

Next stop; Glacier Country!

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