If you've come for sheep pictures, today is your day! After arriving at Lake Wanaka in the morning, we spent the afternoon at Mount Aspiring National Park, basically chasing around farm animals trying to get selfies.
Disclaimer: Mount Aspiring National Park can be reached from Wanaka via an extremely rough/long/sketchy dirt road ("road" is a generous term in places) and multiple large puddles (some bordering on lakes) that you've got to drive through, so if you care about damaging your rental car (we didn't, YOLO) then this may not be the trek for you! Actually, I shouldn't say we didn't care about damaging our rental, because obviously that wouldn't have been ideal, but the road started off paved and then turned into a somewhat legitimate dirt road and by the time we reached the "off-road" section, we had gone too far to turn back. Luckily, our car survived without a scratch. I would say the 1.5 hour Google Maps estimate is pretty accurate. It's only about 30 miles from Wanaka to Raspberry Creek, where the road ends, but you're obviously not traveling at high speeds on these roads.
Wanaka to Mount Aspiring National Park:
We set out to see Mount Aspiring, which I think is the highest peak on the South Island outside of Mt. Cook National Park, and hopefully hike a couple of trails at the end of the road. Unfortunately, the clear skies gave way to low-hanging rain clouds as we drove deeper into the mountains and we couldn't see anything save for a few small hills. Since our original plan was more or less foiled, I concentrated mainly on taking pictures of sheep. Not quite as interesting as Mount Aspiring on a clear day, I'm sure, but a decent alternative for my fellow sheep enthusiasts.
Jealous of this amazing sheep selfie. None of mine were this successful!
I told you I took a lot of sheep pictures...these little ones were just so adorable! Someday when we've got a yard I'm going to invest in a mini herd of sheep. I'm sure Peter is 100% on board with this idea.
This was right before we reached the end of the road, and I'm assuming that's Raspberry Creek. Mount Aspiring is somewhere in the fog!
These pictures make the conditions look a bit more pleasant than they were. It was raining pretty steadily and was extremely windy. We considered trying the hike anyway, but without a guaranteed view of the mountains I vetoed that idea.
These poor guys stalled in the middle of one of the river crossings...I'm guessing they underestimated the depth and didn't fully commit. You kind of had to just go for it and plow through the standing water, as I'm guessing a loss of momentum would pretty much guarantee a struggle. In hindsight, I'm a bit shocked our car fared so well.
Peter tourist-ing again.
He was apparently pretty proud of that picture!
There were quite a few really pretty waterfalls cascading down the mountains.
I mean...how amazing is this picture. We got pretty close to these guys before I tried to get out of the car to realize my sheep selfie dreams and promptly scared them away.
Who knew sheep could gallop?
We saw approximately two other cars/people the whole afternoon, which I didn't mind one bit. In another life, I would love to own a farm in the middle of nowhere and hang out with horses, cows, and sheep all day!
Overall, if you're willing to risk your vehicle and don't get car sick, I'd definitely recommend trying to catch a glimpse of Mount Aspiring. The road took us through quite a variety of scenery and the foliage seemed to changed with every mile, making the trip well worth it even without the hike we had planned!
I'll leave you with this: