Driving down the only highway there is do drive on in the South Island of New Zealand, we stopped in Haast Pass on our way out of Franz Joseph. Apparently, there would be a fantastic national park, where the mountains meet the rainforest which meet the sea. However, we could not see any of this collision of ecosystems of nature because it was raining. Now, in other places when we say it was raining we are talking about a few hours, a bit of pitter patter, you could get by with an umbrella. When I say it was raining–it was raining and for over 24 hours. We pulled up our van that night, and it did not stop. So, the next morning when we woke up, we drove right on through Haast Pass. Driving through, roads began to close behind us, and we made a few stops on the side of the road to look at the temporary water falls that gushed out of the side of the stony mountains.
It is difficult to say if we made the “right” decision, but when we arrived in Wanaka in the mid afternoon, and the sun was shining through the autumn colours as we drove over the small bride that bought us into the quaint town, we were not missing Haast.
There we were in Lake Wanaka! All I could think of was the song written for the past World Cup by Shakira, Waka Waka eh eh! Wanaka!
In an absolutely fantastic mood, we noticed heaps of bike rides around and decided to rent ourselves some mountain bikes, for another New Zealand adrenalin packed adventure. The trail we took led us around Lake Wanaka along a river way and through the golden forests of the surrounding area.
That day, we literally used every ounce of daylight we had! Just as we arrived back in town, we caught the sunset over the mountains. The end to an absolutely fantastic day. Putting back the bikes, we saw a sign advertising the town of Wanaka.
I decided I wanted to be that guy. Standing on that rock. Raphael being the supporting partner in crime that he is, was fully supporting of my ambition, and we headed into the tourist center so that we could be well prepared for the next day. For a lack of better way of approaching the travel agent, I just pointed at the photo, and told the woman, I would like to go to this rock, and have this view. Casually, she said to me that this was Roy’s Peak, it was a 5 hour hike just a few minutes out of town. The way she phrased it this “Roy’s Peak” seemed perfectly do-able.
For us, this seemed like the perfect plan for the next day. Wake up early, take a hike, and continue onto Queenstown. What the woman failed to mention was that this is not a 5 hour hike, but a 5 hour summit involving a lot of uphill. In fact, it was all uphill, until obviously you turned around and walked again downhill. I went to bed that night dreaming of “that guy standing on that rock.” Soon it would be me standing on that rock, with the view.
We woke up the next day and made our way to Roy’s Peak. We began walking, with only one water bottle in hand, as one of our bottles had previously been lost while kayaking in Punakaiki. Big Mistake.
As we walked, it seemed rather reasonable, while it was indeed uphill, it was more or less like walking up a grassy path that S’ed and Z’ed up the mountainside. I could already tell the view would be worth it. All along next to us were many many sheep and cows. More or less it seemed as if this “peak” was indeed someones farm, and who had the idea to spoil his farm animals rotten with the view.
As we made our way up the peak, we climbed over a series of stairs, and the nice wholesome little steadily steep grassy path turned into a very steep rocky path. To say the least, about one hour in, and I was ready to turn around. There were no more sheep and I took this as a sign that the path was about to get rather difficult. The trek was somewhat of a breeze for Raphael, but he and I were still mystified as to how there were runners literally sprinting up this very uphill path. I was perfectly content with my plodding along. Yet, I still began to feel self conscious as these runners began to double over us on their way down.
Three hours later, about fifty convincing and motivating speeches by Raphael, one water bottle, and we made it!
And what did we do? Well we enjoyed the view! We took a few photos of the rock, and turned back around. 1578 meters up, for a view, but boy oh boy, what a view it was!
I must say I quite liked the way down! Although we had no more water, downhill is must more easy that uphill. We enjoyed the sun, the view, and the sheep without the physical stress of climbing to bother us.
Five hours later and it was totally worth it. As we made our way down, we passed a few tourists about to make their way up with heaps of cameras and equipment. “How long does it take for the view?” they ask. “Five hours round trip!” I laugh.
Driving through to Queenstown, Raphael and I guessed and evaluated if the group decided to head up or not, and how long it would take them to turn around.