Blue Pools New ZealandHiking . New Zealand . Outdoor Recreation . Travel . Worldwide Travel
Recommendations for Your South Island New Zealand Itinerary: Blue Pools New Zealand
Blue Pools New Zealand. For our next stop (after coffee, of course), we drove North to the Blue Pools, a series of unbelievably turquoise pools just below a waterfall that opens up into a wide river below. The banks are littered with smooth, round stones, and the glacial mineral runoff refracts the sun’s light to create the most beautiful blue water imaginable. If it wasn’t for the hordes of sandflies, this would truly be paradise. Even with the small, biting insects that enjoy swarming and biting chunks of tender flesh if you stop moving for three seconds, this is one of our favorite spots on the way to the West Coast. A steep but gradual trail leads down from the highway to a series of walkways and bridges that end above deep, swirling pools of blue, the water rushing down and carving out the rock beneath the surface of the water.
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Blue Pools New Zealand: A Turquoise Treasure
Blue Pools NZ. I still can’t believe how many people flock to the site; camper vans and rental cars fill the narrow parking strips on either side of the busy highway. But take a few steps down the trail, and you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, into a primal forest, far away from civilization. Well, except for the crowds of tourists hiking up and down the trail.
Regardless, there’s a reason so many people stop to admire the deep pools and gently flowing river. A suspension bridge only adds to the excitement, and we found several brave visitors who jumped from the even higher bridge that crosses the tributary beneath the waterfalls. I ask Nyah if she would ever want to jump off a bridge into a river like that, and she just smirks and says, “no way.” Either she shares my fear of heights and pain or she has a good sense of self-preservation.
The Take-Away: More Resources for Your South Island Itinerary
- The NZ Department of Conservation (DOC) has information on its website about the blue pools track, directions, and the surrounding beech and podocarp forests. To get to the blue pools, drive along the Haast Highway North from Makarora about 5 miles (8.5 km) to the blue pools carpark. The hike to the suspension bridge and the higher bridge that overlooks the pools is just under a mile (1.5 km) and descends about 150 feet (50m) from the road.
- DOC recommends an hour for the return trip, but you can easily spend several hours in and around the pools if you’re prepared for the sandflies. (We’ve tried natural products with eucalyptus and Vitamin B3 supplements to deal with sandflies, but nothing works quite as well as repellent with deet). If you’ve never experienced sand fly bites, be prepared for itchy, blistering bites that take several days to subside. Ben always has some type of allergic reaction to the sand fly bites, and it takes twice as long for his to heal.
After the blue pools, we made one more stop before we reached the West Coast beaches. To our surprise (and slight dismay), we found hundreds of small stacks of rocks at what was otherwise an undisturbed, peaceful river bank. Unlike rock cairns memorializing the dead or marking a path, the myriad stacks of flat rocks seem only to distract from the natural beauty of the forested hills around and across the river. Nevermind the distraction; the girls absolutely loved the rock stacks, and we enjoyed taking photos of the girls enjoying the rock stacks. I guess they are good for something after all.
(Okay, so that last photo is decidedly not the blue pools, but we’re also huge fans of red pools…of wine! Check out The California Wine Club‘s domestic and international small-batch wines. More on that later).