Franz Joseph to Wanaka
Our next stop on our way through New Zealand was Wanaka. Once again we had located a nice little walk in between the two places and we were excited to be back on the road again. We had seen photos of the “blue pools” on pinterest and it happened to be on our route. We made our way to the stop and jumped out of the car for a short walk to the pools. After a short walk through the woods we came to a bridge which spanned over the river next to the blue pools. A second bridge took us directly over the blue pools for a close look. The water here was absolutely amazing!! It was some of the clearest water we had seen anywhere! The view was awesome but we were being attacked by flies and it was raining a bit so we quickly moved on.
We made our way to Wanaka and got checked into our hostel. We were in a 6 bedroom dorm once again but this one was a lot nicer than the last. It was perfectly located next to town so we decided to walk around a bit. Wanaka is a very small town and kind of feels like a mountain ski resort type town. There were a lot of places to eat, local art, etc.
Hiking Mt. Roy
There were a lot of recommendations to visit Wanaka online. We loved the little town but we basically explored it the first night we were there. We had been considering what to do and figured we might as well stick with the hiking/walking trend since we were in New Zealand. We can be outdoorsy right? Heck yeah we can! Ashley and I had located a hike on Mt. Roy which was just 10 minutes drive from town. The photos from the top looked amazing online! Perfect!!! We researched a bit and people said it was a long hike but could be accomplished in about 4 to 5 hours but allow 6 to 7 if you’re slow. Knowing we probably aren’t going to fall on the fast side, we decided to make it a priority first thing in the morning to show up so we’d have plenty of time. We brought a LOT of water and also lunch so we could eat at the top. We arrived about 10 a.m. ready to take on Mt. Roy!
This is where things started to quickly go downhill. As soon as we arrived I decided I need to go to the bathroom….back to the hostel. Ok we’re back at the mountain, 10:30, NOW we’re ready to conquer this mountain! We were all excited to do the hike and started snapping our selfies with the sign, taking photos of the board describing the hike, the first few steps, etc etc. What we failed to realize at this point was the LENGTH of this hike. Very clearly marked on the sign it shows that this is a 16KM hike. This works out to 9.94 miles but let’s round that up to 1,000 miles. Ashley and I mistakenly believed this was a 5 miles round trip hike or 2.5 miles to the top. How bad could it be right?
Here’s a photo of us like 30 minutes after we started. Look how far up we are!!!! At this point there had been ZERO flat surfaces, just switch back after switchback. This is the part where your brain starts to question you. We were both trying to talk through gasps of non-existent air, trying to figure out if we should keep at this or just call it quits. Well we’re not quitting now, we packed a lunch for this thing and the pictures on pinterest look cool so let’s kick it into gear here. Only 2.49 miles left to go! Onward!
WOW!!! We are REALLY getting up there now. You can see Wanaka off in the distance on the right hand side! This is pretty beautiful! Should we just call it good here and head on home? Nah, we’ve already gone like 1.2 miles so we’re nearly halfway. Let’s just keep at it!
OK NOW we are really high. Look how far away the road is!! Look at the terrain here, its the ONLY flat part we have seen so far so at least we’re getting a break. It says we’re at 2.3 miles so now I’m starting to get a little worried. We should be at the halfway point but look up at the peak we still have a LONG ways to go. Well, we can’t stop now we are committed!
Hey look, some sheep!! At this point on the hike Ashley and I are both starting to seriously question our decision. We are both extremely exhausted. We have been passed by every person on the mountain and we have passed no one. Where are the unfit people? Oh….that’s right, it’s us. Well now we can’t quit just out of pride. Just 200 more switch backs to go with no level surface in sight!
We made it up to a little path that I will characterize as the 75% mark. At this point our GPS is telling us we’ve gone far beyond the 2.5 miles and we have no idea how much we have left. We just know that we’ve already sunk this much time into it, we’re exhausted, and we are determined to get to the top. Both of us were ready to go quit but we never wanted to quit at the same time so we kept passing the motivation baton back and forth to keep going!
I mounted Roy!
We finally made it to the top and Ashley and I were both dead!! If you look really closely you can see the car park down below. You don’t see it? That’s because you CAN’T! We’re mere feet below the international space station and our car is so far away it would take the Hubble telescope to see it!!
The view from the top was truly spectacular though! We sat at the very top which was just a little base of concrete with a pole attached. We pulled out our crappy sandwiches and trail mix and we were both so happy to have something to eat. We drank most of our water on the way up but still had enough for lunch and a little for the way back down. At the very top it was fine on one side but basically a straight down cliff on the other. I’m not sure why but every time Ashley stood up to get a photo it made me super uneasy. Being exhausted I didn’t want either of us to trip and end up flying over the ledge! We managed to get a few photos in but it was naturally very cold up at the top. Between the exhaustion and the cold we were both feeling pretty beat.
We still had to make our way down though, and we had been hiking to the top of Roy for what felt like an eternity. The only think keeping us going was that the way down had to be all downhill. I kid you not, the entire way up there were maybe 2 spots that had any sort of flat level surface to walk on. The rest of the time it was basically straight up! We ended up getting done with Roy in a little over 7 hours. The way up took us around 5 hours and the way down took about 2 hours. The whole way down Ashley and I lamented the torture that Mt. Roy had been. We discussed what it would take for each of us to get to the bottom and start over again immediately. The number $50,000 was thrown out and both of us laughed at the thought. We knew neither of us could make it back up that mountain again without days of rest! We were truly beat but it felt really good to make it to the top!!