Located around an hour from Wanaka, on the road to the West Coast, the Blue Pools Track is one of the best short walks in Mount Aspiring National Park. The Blue Pools are clear, calm sections of the Blue / Makarora rivers — it’s some of the most pristine and inviting water you’ll see in New Zealand (even though the water is more green than blue).
Walking Through the Forest
The Blue Pools Track initially takes you through the forest before reaching a swing bridge. It’s a short walk (10 minutes or so) and is very easy.
The Blue Pools
There are two swing bridges, one over each river. Make sure to walk down to the edge of the river below the first bridge — the water is so clear down there and most people just walk straight over the bridge. While walking over the first bridge have a look below you and you might see fish — this will give you an idea of how clear the water is!
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It’s only a few more minutes’ walk to the next bridge. From there you can see up a narrow gorge and on the other side you might catch a glimpse of some snow-capped mountains. Again, make sure you go down to the edge of the river. The views back towards the bridge are pretty amazing.
If it’s a nice sunny day you’ll be in awe of how exotic and unspoilt this place is. The water almost looks too good to resist a swim, but it is freezing (especially when you visit outside of summer). We did see a couple of people swimming though and they were alright after the initial cold-water shock subsided.
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I’m not entirely sure when the best time to visit the Blue Pools is (in terms of photos) but we were there at around 9 am (in mid November) and the light was pretty good. Obviously it won’t look as good on a grey day, but I’m sure it’s still worth a visit.
Getting to the Blue Pools Track
The Blue Pools Track is accessed via the main road between Wanaka and Haast. This road skirts Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka before following the Makarora River and then on towards the West Coast. It takes around two hours to drive between Wanaka and Haast but you’ll want to double that (at least). There is so much to see, including several impressive waterfalls (Roaring Billy Falls, Fantail Falls, Thunder Creek Falls) and lots of viewpoints. It’s one of New Zealand’s most scenic roads, so take your time and stop as much as you can.
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