After visiting Milford Sound, we headed back via Queenstown to Wanaka. It was somewhere that was on Shane’s checklist and included an epic hike up Roy’s Peak and a visit to the Wanaka tree in the middle of the lake. We arrived in the dark and went for a walk around the town, which had some lovely restaurants and eateries all along the lakeside. After a night in what we considered was actually one of the worst campsites we stayed in, the next morning it was time to take on Roy’s Peak.
I love walking and hiking, so was really looking forward to tackling this one. Roy’s Peak is a mountain that is situated between Lake Wanaka and Glendhu Bay and has epic panoramic views of the lakes and Mount Aspiring. It’s a 16km round hike and let’s just say, it was tough! I’d say that Shane and I are quite fit, we work out a lot and enjoy being outdoors, but this hike was very much an uphill climb. And when you thought you’d reached the top, there was another climb to overcome. It took us about 6 hours in total, but my god was it worth it!
The views were absolutely incredible. You can see for miles around and although it wasn’t the most clear day, it was still amazing. Lakes, mountains and rolling countryside spread out beneath Roy’s Peak and everywhere you looked it was incredible.
Despite the tough climb, I would definitely recommend the hike. It really instilled a love of hiking in me, and it is something we now both want to do more of elsewhere in the world. The feeling when reaching the top is incredible, and even better is the feeling when you reach a camper van that is filled with chocolate at the bottom!
That night we decided to ditch the camper van in favour of a night of luxury in a hotel with a hot-tub and, despite the added expense, I think it was the right decision. We were both in need of a good night’s sleep after hiking all day, and jet lag was seriously kicking me in the butt. We had a good 12 hours sleep and instantly left feeling more refreshed.
That morning was spent by the lake taking in the beautiful views of that Wanaka Tree and eating brunch lakeside in the sunshine. We both loved Wanaka. It was such a relaxed town and had a really lovely feel about it. There was so much to do there, but time wasn’t on our side and it was time to head to the Mount Cook National Park.
This was one of the locations we had both been very excited for, but unfortunately we were left a little disappointed. While Mount Cook is pretty impressive, the poor weather conditions and low lying cloud meant we could hardly see it and it wasn’t until we got right into the National Park that the mountain was visible. It was the first day of poor weather we’d had, and it’s amazing how much the weather can impact upon how you feel about a place. We did take a short hike to Kea Point to the glacier lake which was really cool, and then found ourselves a camper van spot for the night in Glentanner. However, this was definitely the worst site we stayed in during our trip, which again impacted on how we felt about the place.
We had been planning to stay at the National Park a little longer, but as the weather was still rough the next day, we opted to move on to our next destination of Lake Tekapo. Originally we had planned for it to be a passing visit, but it turned out to be one of our favourite spots in NZ. It was amazing!
Tekapo is a small town situated on the southern edge of Lake Tekapo. You may recognise it from the beautiful starry skied church pictures that often pop up on Instagram, and it is a really quiet little town with so much to do. The cloud thankfully cleared on our way in, and we took a random detour to the Mount John Observatory which provided us with amazing views of the turquoise lake and beyond. I couldn’t quite believe the colour of the water.
We stayed at the Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park and instantly it became one of our favourite campsites. You parked up right beside the lake, it was a short walk to the town itself, was situated right next to the hot pools at Tekapo Springs and the facilities were clean and well looked after. There were also some pretty hungry ducks who would come running up to your camper for food as soon as you opened a door, but it definitely added to the whole experience!
We took a walk to the church along the lakeside, had some time looking around and then headed to the Tekapo Hot Springs just as the sun was setting. I would definitely recommend these if you get a chance. It’s also the perfect place to stargaze. There are lots of stargazing tours in Tekapo, but as we were on a budget, here we could just relax in the warm waters and look up at the sky as it got darker and the stars started to appear. It was a truly awesome experience.
The next day we awoke to possibly the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. I’ve not actually seen anything like it before. It was insane. The sky was red and orange as the sun rose over the mountains and the lake reflected it perfectly — we ran down to the lakeside from our camper van in order to see it in all its glory. It was the perfect ending to our time in a very beautiful little town.
Lots of love. xoxo