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Blue Pools Track, Mount Aspiring National Park

Blue Pools Track, Mount Aspiring National Park

Located around an hour from Wānaka, 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 is a clear, calm section of the Blue / Makarora rivers — it’s some of the most pristine and inviting water you’ll see in New Zealand.

A Scenic Car Park

The views hit you straight away at the Blue Pools as it has one of the most scenic car parks in the South Island. There’s also a short path that runs along the clifftops where you’ll get awesome views of the river. If you aren’t keen for a walk you could make a quick stop at the car park and still feel like you’ve seen something cool.

Walking Through the Forest

From the car park the track heads through the forest to the Blue Pools. It should take around 60 – 90 minutes return to do the walk. There are a couple of places along the track where you can get down to the river, otherwise it’s mostly through the bush with occasional mountain views. The track was extended and the car park moved recently — the walk only used to take around 10 minutes.

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 should give you an idea of how clear the water is!

READ MORE: 18 of the Best Things to Do in Wānaka

The first set of Blue Pools, Wanaka - Haast, New ZealandA fish in the Blue Pools, New Zealand

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 view back towards the bridge was one of our favourites.

If it’s a 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.

READ MORE: Wānaka Itinerary: How to Spend Three – Seven Days in Wanaka

The Blue Pools Track, Wanaka - Haast road, New ZealandThe Blue Pools Track, Wanaka, New Zealand

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. We also visited in May (late morning) and the light was good although some parts were in shadows.

Getting to the Blue Pools Track

The Blue Pools Track is accessed via the main road between Wanaka and Haast. This road skirts Lake Hāwea and Lake Wānaka before following the Makarora River and then on towards the West Coast. It takes around two hours to drive between Wānaka 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.

Need some help planning your trip to New Zealand? Check out our South Island Travel Guide!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.