Lake Hawea – Buy
Just before the final drive into Wanaka you arrive at the State Highway 6 turnoff to Lake Hawea, and the Haast Pass which eventually takes you all the way to the West Coast of the South Island. Having left Alexandra earlier that day, and after passing through the towns of Clyde and Cromwell, I had found myself wanting to stretch my legs and had considered stopping off at the National Transport and Toy Museum which is just after the town of Luggate on the way to Wanaka. I was also tempted to call in to Puzzling World, another tourist attraction on the way to Wanaka that features an outdoor maze and multiple rooms filled with optical illusions. Puzzling world was started by Stuart and Jan Landsborough in 1973 when they sold their house and brought a barren piece of land on the outskirts of Wanaka (which had a population of just 800 people at the time) and told everyone they were going to build a lifesize maze made out of wooden planks. Everyone quite rightly thought they were crazy, however before Covid 19 hit in 2020, the maze was drawing 200,000 visitors a year. Which just goes to show that people will happily pay $27.50 to voluntarily get themselves confused and lost!
Resisting the temptation to stop at some of the local tourist attractions, I took the Haast Pass turn off and followed State Highway 6 towards Albert Town Lake Hawea and my final destination of Makarora. It only took a few moments to reach Albert Town. A place that isn’t really a town at all. To me, the name sounds like it should be an historic gold mining town or a settlement fashioned on the American West that is filled with saloon’s that have hitching posts out the front. In fact, it is little more than an oversized housing development that started in farmland to satisfy the need for more accomodation in the area. After Albert Town is Lake Hawea. With a town at the foot of the lake, Hawea is quickly becoming an alternative holiday destination to nearby Wanaka and Queenstown. An ominous sign to anyone who enjoys its tranquillity. The lake itself is fairly impressive as it’s the ninth largest in the country, it is 35 km in length, it covers 141 km² and is 392 metres deep. Which makes it a pretty decent place to visit all things considered. I carried on State Highway 6 which followed the line of the lake, occasionally stopping at viewing points to take in the scenery, eventually reaching the head of the lake where the road passed between the mountains and for a brief time I travelled alongside the head of Lake Wanaka before leaving it behind heading into Makarora.