The Isthmus Peak Track

I wanted to share one of the best and most beautiful walks I did while I was in New Zealand, the Isthmus Peak Track.

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It was around this time 2 years ago I was living in Wanaka for the ski season. My boyfriend, Chris, had started pre-season work at Cardrona Ski Field, but I was jobless and struggling to find work.

So one morning, I decided to get out of the house and go off by myself for a hike, hoping it might make me feel better. After a bit of research I decided to do the Isthmus Peak track, a 16km day walk that takes you up to a 1,385 metre summit. With the sun out and barely a cloud in the sky I left Wanaka and drove 30 minutes to Lake Hawea and the start of the walk.

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I pulled up to an empty car park and got stuck into the walk. It started with a steep climb through native bush before levelling out to a 4wd track through farmland.  I came across a sign warning walkers about hunting in the area, and then stumbled upon a few deers grazing in a field. I had images of being mistaken for a deer and getting shot but luckily no hunters were about.

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The track stayed level just long enough for me to get my breath back before it started to wind up towards the summit, becoming more rugged and alpine like as I climbed. What I loved most about this walk was the views. The whole way up to the summit there were amazing views of Lake Hawea behind me. The higher I climbed the better the views became, I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

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It wasn’t long until I was walking on a snow covered track. It looked completely unspoilt, not another footprint to be seen, except a few deer. I felt completely removed from everything, just what I needed!

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After 3 hours of walking I finally reached the summit and I couldn’t believe what I saw. I was on top of the world surrounded by snow capped mountains and lakes. In front of me was Lake Wanaka while behind, I could still see Lake Hawea. 360 degrees of absolutely stunning views.

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I spent some time up there, just taking in the views, the sound of ‘nothing’, enjoying just being alone for a bit. But time was getting on and I knew I should get going. The advised time for the walk was 5-6 hours and with the early nights I didn’t have long till sunset. Also, being an unprepared idiot I hadn’t told anyone I was doing the walk, and didn’t have any kind of flash light, so it was a bit of a power walk back to the car.

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2 years ago I did this day walk and I still remember it so clearly. Anyone who travels to Lake Hawea or Wanaka should definitely look into Isthmus Peak, with a bit more variation and interest I’d choose this over the more popular Roys Peak Track any day!

 

Vicki Larkin

 

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