It was a sunny New Year’s day when I headed off with four of the boys for our next mission. The trip to Blue Lake had been on the cards for a couple of years and the stars had finally aligned to allow us to have a crack. An early start saw us jumping in the 4WD at the bottom of Mailing Pass and on our way to the start of the route. The walk in started at a very leisurely pace and after a couple of hours we made it to Caroline Creek Biv. The Biv itself is a bit cramped but the area affords great views up towards Waiau Pass and would make a great campsite. We soon continued onto Waiau Forks, our intended destination for the night, and made short work of setting up camp.
The next morning dawned sunny and hot and we soon found ourselves at the bottom of Waiau Pass. Here the track steepens considerably and heads up an obvious route on the true left of the creek. Halfway up the ridge towards the pass, a nice tarn is reached - marking our lunch spot for the day. Then the final climb to the pass starts up a steep rocky outcropping on the ridge. At times this required both hands engaged in the scramble.
The top is soon reached and the pain forgotten as we took in the views out towards Thompson Pass to the south, and Lake Constance to the north. The descent is fast and furious from here, with two sections of shingle scree linked by a tussock plateau that will see you at the bottom of the pass in no time. A gentle wander down the valley to Lake Constance follows before the final hurdle - a short, steep climb to get around the bluffs on the west side of the lake. From here the track sidles above the lake and drops onto the remains of the landslide that formed Lake Constance at the north end of the lake. A short drop through the forest had us arriving at our final destination - Blue Lake. The waters of Blue Lake are the clearest of any lake in the world and quickly turns us all into photographers as we try to preserve the memories of such a magical place.
Waking the next morning in our campsite on the side of the lake our thoughts turned to home and the challenge to get back to the car in one day was raised by someone… Ten hours and 15 minutes later we arrived back at the car in the pouring rain and notice that Waiau pass is no longer visible, hidden in thick rain clouds. We thanked our lucky stars that we weren't up there and began the drive over Mailing Pass back to a good nights sleep.
In New Zealand we don't go hiking, walking or frolicking in the wilderness - we tramp.