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