Day 23: Wanaka - Haast Pass - Fox Glacier
18 January 2010
4320km - map

Being amongst the pine trees for the night means the campervan is in the shade and as there's no checkout time at the Department of Conservation site we're at we have a nice lie-in until 10am. A leisurely breakfast later and we travel the few kilometers back to Wanaka to visit Puzzling World - a smallish attraction dedicated to puzzles of all sorts, illusions and a maze. We wander around the illusion rooms - where faces in the wall seem to follow you as you walk around, a room where you appear taller in one corner and shorter in another and a room where everything is tilted slightly, making things appear to roll uphill. We then tackled the maze, taking 45 minutes to complete it, and all for $12.50 which was very reasonable.

We had a light lunch sitting in the campervan and then headed northwards along Haast Pass towards the Westland area with its famous glaciers. The Haast Pass has some beautiful scenery along it and we stopped a couple of times to take pictures of waterfalls and rapids, getting back in to the van quickly due to the abundance of sand flies about. Mid afternoon we stopped for coffee at Haast Beach which turned out to be an almost desserted town and more than just a little Hicksville-esque so we didn't stay long.

We continued north to Fox Glacier, the town taking its name from the ancient attraction further up the valley, and had a great steak at an american steakhouse. We planned to take a helicopter ride around both the Fox Glacier and the Franz Josef Glacier in the next valley the following day so picked up some leaflets from the tourist office before making our way out of town to a free campsite on the flood plain of a small river. We were soon joined by 3 other campervans and as we sat reading by the campervan the cloud we had been driving under all day lifted revealing the glacier in the distance and a fantastic sunset over the river. The sand flies and mosquitos were out in force again tonight as dusk settled so we moved into the campervan before dark before they dined on us.

Puzzling World, Wanaka
Rapids along the Haast Pass
The Franz Josef Glacier
Sunset at the campsite