We’d heard nothing but great things about the town of Wanaka. Unfortunately, these raving reviews were all shot down immediately as we rolled into town and hit bumper-to-bumper traffic.
“What the feck is this?”
“Milly, it’s new years day.”
“Bugger this place, lets get the groceries and leave.”
We’d just spent 6 days in the wilderness, with nothing but peace, quiet, and the faint “baaaahhh” of a few sheep in the distance.
In all fairness, Wanaka is a beautiful spot. Just not on the first day of the year.
We went for a stroll beside the lake, squeezing in and out of funky kids with their funky colourful socks and rad beanies, found a local supermarket, stocked up the fridge with more bread rolls, sausages, packets of noodles and cheese, and then we popped Diamond Lake into the GPS and started the drive to our next campsite.
Driving towards the next stop, I read the reviews out to Mark.
“Great spot, beautiful views!”
“Good free site. Nice location.”
“Great spot, very clean and it has a toilet!”
We almost missed the turn off to the site. Perhaps because it looked like an abandoned farm, with overgrown grass, and a thin wire fence surrounding a rectangular rocky clearing. Or maybe it’s because we were too busy laughing at the sheep we’d just scared off with the horn.
Unfortunately this DOCs campsite is more of a carpark for hikers doing the Diamond Lake trail. Okay, so it’s got a toilet, it’s a free campsite, and there are green hills all around – and with all judgement aside, we’ve got a van to sleep in, so all we need is a flat patch of grass to pull up and rest.
Hiking the Diamond Lake Trail
We started the short hike up the trail around 2:45pm. After climbing (far too many) steps, we reached the top the steep hill, walked along a wooden platform, and looked down to see Diamond Lake.
Instead of turning back, we decided to continue up the hill – despite our plan to hike Roys Peak the next day, and the blisters forming on the back of my foot. We’d heard passerby chatting about the “delightful” view from Lake Wanaka viewpoint – approximately another kilometre, and many more steps above.
Huffing and puffing, we made it to the top, and sat on the grassy knoll, munching into apples, and taking in the view.
On the way down, we took the Diamond Lake circuit instead of walking back the same way. As we made our way around the crater lake, I spotted a lady ahead, staring at a rock face behind us. We turned around to see two rock climbers making their way up the cliff face that we’d just hiked.
We got back to the van, grabbed a drink, a pack of peckish crackers and dip. As the sun set, we sat in the van, taking in the view of mountains around us.
As I peeled my sweaty socks off, I spotted a large blister on the back of my right foot. Great. There’s really no fixing that – aside from letting it pop. I guess diamonds aren’t forever, but blisters certainly are.
Another early night was on the cards, because tomorrow, we’re going to summit the famous Roys Peak.
Or will we?
Where we stayed:
Diamond Lake hiking trail parking lot. Okay, so it’s a campsite, and it wont cost you a cent, but it’s literally the parking lot for the Diamond Lake trail.
- 1 toilet. It smells.
- Hardly any sandflies, so I give this spot a solid 2/10 sandfly rating.
How long does it take to get there:
If you’re re-tracing our steps, it should take about 1hr 20min to get from Cameron Flat campsite to Diamond Lake.