Saturday, May 20, 2017

Azure Drive: Haast to Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea

Last time we drove this stretch it was through sheets of rain. What a difference the sun makes! The Haast River at left fairly glows.

We pull off at Roaring Billy Falls to walk the 1K path and discover new friends Hannah and Logan on their way out. We met this lovely Auckland duo back in Fox Glacier and had seen their rig at Lake Kaniere outside Hoki. Such are the synchronicities of the traveling life.

Tree frog or possum?

Snow on the mountaintops. The air is chilly and perfectly fresh like a well-made martini.

(Don't look down...)

Just before we reach the enormous lakes we're approaching, the landforms change, opening up to great sunny flats.

Lake Wanaka 

With Lake Wanaka on our right and then briefly out of sight, Lake Hawea appears on the left. (This is handy for photographers who might confuse one azure lake with another.) We've just driven through The Neck, seen on the map below where the two lakes nearly converge. NZ's fourth largest lake, Lake Wanaka has an estimated depth of 980 feet. It's 26 miles long.

Wanaka lies in a u-shaped valley formed by glacial erosion during the last ice age, more than 10,000 years ago. It is fed by the Matukituki and Makarora Rivers, and is the source of the Clutha River. Nearby Lake Hāwea lies in a parallel valley carved by a neighbouring glacier eight kilometres to the east. At their closest point (a rocky ridge called The Neck), the lakes are only 1,000 metres apart.[3]

Lake Hawea

We're driving down the west coast of Lake Hawea to the bottom, where our campground lies. This light loves the lake.

It's just a glorious ride.

125 K from Haast to the Hawea campground, just about 80 perfect miles (click here to see map if viewing in email).

We made it, and the autumn colors remind us we're in the Southern Hemisphere.

A view of Lake Hawea in the setting sun outside the caravan window tells you much about the benefits of camping. If my compass is correct, we should have the sun on our little rig in the morning.

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