Weather is looking a good deal better today, which is great because I've planned a few stops. We are early up, and away with the first stop at Roaring Billy Falls. This is a short walk through stunning, mature Podacarp forest, giving access to the Haast River, and the recently accessible river bed. It's all out on the stones and heads down hunting for Pounamu. The stones are all very pretty, as they are wet from the overnight rain, but the stuff that looks like Pounamu, (I'm no expert) really stands out. Great views up and down the river Valley too, oh and did I mention Roaring Billy Falls...
The next stop is a tall waterfall that I don't normally stop at as the car park is often crammed. But the 100m walk is worth it. Gosh NZ has some stunning scenery.
The Gates of Haast with its roaring water is a must see stop. It never fails to muster ooohs and aaaahs. The work done to stabilize the bank and the bridge are testimony to the power and strength of nature.
Fantail Falls are always a good bet after a bit of rain, so a short stop there is worth while. However, too much rain at the Blue Pools really spoils the spectacle, so we didn't stop, seeing as we had been out to Hokitika Gorge anyway.
It's not a long drive from here to Wanaka, via Lake Hawea. Ian is excited about arriving here, as one of his main reasons for visiting NZ is the Warbirds over Wanaka at Easter. He is pleased to be able to suss out the scene before the throngs arrive.
A quick lunch and shuffle of gear on the shores of the lake, and we are off up the Matukituki Valley to Raspberry Flat. The road is pretty rutted, but with the recent wet keeping the dust down, and the herds of cattle and flocks of sheep on the road, the trip doesn't take too long.
There are alot fewer people out here than last month, and with a cool wind on our backs, it is a pleasant two and a half hours walk up to the Aspiring Hut. Warden Paul provides a cheerful greeting. There are only another three persons in the hut, and Aussie Trevor has the fire going warming us up. A three course meal: cheese and crackers, soup, pasta, pesto, sun dried tomatoes and olives, followed by a date and apricot loaf for dessert. We didn't manage the dessert, and left enough of the main for Karen to be excited about her breakfast.
Convincing all the hut occupants to play a round of Pink Possum resulted in a breakdown of barriers, and a round of Oh Bother kept the jovial mood flowing. Then a few went in search of Glowworms across the swing bridge. I was happy to crawl into my sleeping bag.