Te Araroa: Waiau Pass in photos

Climbing up and over Waiau Pass was my favorite part of the South Island. It’s a stunningly beautiful alpine route with an unforgiving ascent and technical descent. Some have even described the descent as being “dangerous,” after a British Te Araroa thru-hiker fell off a bluff to his death in 2013.

The ascent began from Blue Lake, “the most pristine fresh water in the world.”

blue lake

An early morning fog retreated to reveal an impressive alpine panorama.

fog

Then we descended to Lake Constance and sidled around it.

lake constance

After the lake, we climbed up to a beautiful valley. A track ascended straight up a very steep scree slope on the left and I thought, “That can’t be…oh…”

valley

I ascended on my toes and my calf muscles screamed, so I stopped to look back on Lake Constance.

look backI grabbed tussock and hoisted myself up a light track cut by someone’s boots. My achilles felt like it was about to snap.

waiau
Photo by Cameron McAlpine

This was one of the most stunning places I’d ever been.

10978622_10101220266163880_4962376865134841688_nThe descent from the pass was difficult and required a bit of care, but that’s true for a lot of mountain passes.

IMG_2067

Our efforts led us to this magical waterfall.

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