I’m not going to lie… when I saw the sign saying ‘Blue Pools’ along the Haast Highway I thought “well, most the water ways are blue in New Zealand…. what could be so special about this one?”. Nevertheless, I suffer from severe FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) so stopped to see what the fuss was all about.
The walking track to the pools is a short 15 minute walk, just off the Highway. The track takes you through luscious forest and across two swing bridges which cross the Makarora River.
Crossing the first swing bring, the water is shallow but you can see how clear it is – although this still is no great revelation, as I said before most of New Zealand’s water is beautiful and clear.
As we came to the second swing bridge, I was quick to swallow my previous scepticism. The water was AH-MAZE-ING!
The deep river pools are located where the Blue River joins the Makarora River, and get their name from the unique colour of the water. The blue colouring is a result of light refraction on the clear and icy cold water running off the surrounding snow capped mountains (yes, snow on the mountains even in the summer). Large rainbow and brown trout migrate up the Makarora River from Lake Wanaka, especially in autumn and winter, and can be seen swimming in the water.
We stopped to watch some thrill seekers take the 14 meter plunge from the second swing bridge into ice cold water. I had no interest in joining in - I didn't need to feel the water to know how cold it was. After watching a few more jumpers and a few cheeky sandfly bites later (which there were swarms of) it was time to head off again.
So there you go, a lesson learnt the hard way - don't knock it until you try it! These beautiful pools are defiantly worth stopping to have a look at - but make sure you keep an eye out for the sign. Blink, and you’ll miss it.