Up and over the Haast Pass, we encountered a dozen waterfalls and some spectacular scenery around Wanaka.

Just before leaving the coast, we stopped at Munroe beach to try and see the elusive Fiordland Yellow Crested penguin. Unfortunately the sand was covered in nasty biting flies even during the rain, so our penguin spotting time was limited. We stayed until we saw one tumble out of the surf, hobble up the sand, and flop in a nest. Not quite National Geographic, but enough for our first sighting.

Penguin sighting number one!

Swatting at flies in the rain

We left the beach in a hurry, and retreated to our van to kill the forty or so flies that followed us, and apply balm to our wounds.

Thunder Creek Falls

Once we were over the pass the rains cleared up (but not the clouds) and the flies were gone. We were only in their territory for two days, but we were glad to be free of their nuisance for a bit. We followed some amazing passes until we got to Wanaka, home of an Instagram famous tree. I got up twice for sunrise to shoot it, along with a dozen other photographers. It wasn’t clear enough for any color, but the still water made for a compelling shot. Glad I brought that big 200mm lens and tripod, just for this shot alone.

That Wanaka Tree
That Wanaka Tree

Wanaka is a super cute town, and we ended up staying an extra day so we could do a hike to Rob Roy glacier. It’s at the end of a dirt road with about a dozen creek crossings, which our van handled admirably.

This was one of the smaller crossings, but I was too nervous to film the bigger ones.

When we got to the track, the actual glacier was almost at the cloud line. But just walking between the sheer valley walls, hanging out with the sheep, and enjoying the forest were well worth the somewhat arduous drive. Highly recommended if you’re ever out Wanaka way.

Ewe and Me
Matukituki Bridge
Chilling on it