Long before we arrived in Wanaka, the South Island, or even New Zealand in general, we knew we wanted to take a day trip to visit the blue pools. These pools are off shoots of the larger river around them and get their icy blue color and temperature from their source: glacial melt from the mountains towering above them.
The Blue Pools carpark is off the Haast Highway, and the drive from Wanaka is unbelievable even if you don’t stop at the pools. The road cuts its way across lakes, mountains, open valleys and forrest. By the time you’ve arrived, between 45 minutes to an hour or so, you’ve already seen enough to make the dent in your gas tank worth while.
BUT, when you DO stop at the blue pools (because why on earth wouldn’t you), you’ll be treated to a stunning and mercifully short walk through the woods, two bridges crossing over the river and, of course, the pools.
Many people choose to observe the pools from above while some, like us, ventured down to see if the water really is as cold as it looks. It is. After getting up to my waist in the water I was shaking all over and tapping out. If you want a taste of what I’m saying, just look at the pictures; my shoulders do not normally reach my ears.
Now, there is a third option for the brave and foolish: you can jump from the 40-50ft bridge into a deeper part of the pools. After sincerely deciding we didn’t want to do it and then jealously watching a group of 10 brave the jump, we decided we were definitely brave and foolish enough to jump ourselves.
It was high up, something we thought about but didn’t really think about until we had a crowd of about 20 people waiting for us to climb over the bridge barrier and take the polar plunge. We handed off our cameras and counted down from three.
I told myself that I wouldn’t scream on the way down, but I did.
If you’re anywhere near Wanaka, seriously consider taking this drive, especially on a perfect day like the one we had. For the brave and foolish, we definitely recommend the plunge, if only for the story.