A lovely night in the hut last night. It always feels nice when we have a whole mattress shelf to ourselves and can double up the mattresses and spread out a bit. Of course we always sleep better knowing we’re hitting a town the next day as well. We got started early in the morning while it was still dark out to enable us to get to Wanaka nice and early. It’d still be a very full 35km day so we had plenty of walking ahead.
The day started going back up over the top of the ridge and then descending down the other side towards Lake Hawea. This was probably the hardest part of the day but it was also pretty stunning being up there early in the morning as the sun was coming up behind us.
It was a pretty windy descent but not as bad as it could’ve been and we had pretty much the perfect weather for it. It took us about two hours to cover the 5km distance from the top to the road at the bottom.
Once we made it to the bottom we began the lakeside walk around to the town of Lake Hawea. It was an easy and very nice walk and we passed a lot of people out for morning runs or bike rides over this section. Everyone seemed healthy and friendly and the whole place has an outdoor and energetic vibe to it.
We took a small diversion before passing through the town to get some ice cream from the local store. As usual in New Zealand it was fresh made ice cream and they provided huge scoops. We set out quickly to keep on schedule and began our walk along the Hawea River towards Albert town. This was probably the longest and hottest section of the day and we slowed down a bit through here with all the exposure and our sugar crash from the ice cream. We did stop for lunch and finished all of our remaining food. Reenergized we pushed on to Albert Town and crossed over the swing bridge to the campground.
As we were getting closer to Wanaka we could start to see planes flying overhead. We’ve conveniently arrived right in time for Warbirds Over Wanaka, a huge airshow with a lot of sweet aircraft flying around. The track joined a mountain biking track alongside the Upper Clutha river and out to Lake Wanaka. It was again pretty easy track and was a really nice walk which we just pushed through to get to Wanaka.
We eventually reached Wanaka and quickly navigated a neighborhood to get to our friends house. It’s a very new neighborhood and we looked well out of place. We were guessing if we didn’t arrive at the house soon we might’ve gotten a police escort at any moment from the looks we were getting. We’re super excited to have arrived in Wanaka and now be so close to the end. This will probably be our last break from the trail.