In the many South Island hiking blogs I’ve skimmed, at least two cite the Rob Roy Glacier Track as their favorite day hike. That seemed more than enough reason to go bump, bump, bump, down over twenty-five kilometers of dirt road, fording streams and avoiding both sheep and cows along the way to the trailhead.
The Rob Roy Glacier hike starts out as a wide path that runs through a lovely pastoral area, complete with more cows (as a side note, dairy farming has overtaken sheep farming as the largest agricultural industry in New Zealand) …
… which Prescott tried to visit:
We walked along the path of the stream …
… and then crossed it over a cool swing bridge:
Once you’ve crossed the stream, you head up a long, fairly steep path in the woods. There’s a joke in New Zealand that if you see a tree, you must be in a national park (because animal farmers and loggers have taken away the trees everywhere else). And sure enough, you’re now in Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand’s third-largest national park and home to about 100 glaciers.
This hike offers the first Rob Roy Glacier lookout just over an hour into the climb:
It’s incredible to see so much blue ice up on the mountainside, even through the clouds. I took advantage of the opportunity to look up at the view while I stretched my back:
We next stopped for lunch along the banks of the roaring Rob Roy Stream…
… and took a little time for our own versions of R&R:
The trail continued to climb up through the forest.
Finally the trail opened up into subalpine shrubs, along with a fantastic view:
This was amazing — I have never seen so many waterfalls in one place in my whole life. They were everywhere. The first one we’d seen was by far the tallest…
… but there were others all over the place:
A cloud hung over the glacier the entire time we were there (I suppose that’s good for the glacier, which is already receding and probably does not need any more sunlight), but if you turned back and looked at the valley behind us, it was all blue skies:
The mountains here are just stunning.
Prescott practiced some yoga on the rocks:
Sadly, about a kilometer into our five-K return, Prescott twisted his ankle badly.
This made for a long, slow, occasionally agonizing trip down the mountain, but Prescott was a trooper. We made it back to the bottom (and the cows) without further incident.
We drove back into Wanaka and stopped at their long public beach, where I took a quick pre-dinner swim. After we ate, we drove to a tiny Airbnb shed (that’s really the best word for it) just minutes away from beautiful, exceptionally windy Lake Hawea.