127 Days on the Road
Watching the sunrise from Wanaka Bakpaka‘s elevated lakeside location is the perfect way to start a morning. The mountain tops capture the red hue first before the whole town of Wanaka lights up. It’s going to be another warm spring’s day in Wanaka – ideal for climbing some waterfalls!
Loads of time…
“Yeah, we have LOADS of time to get a coffee,” Robin says, filing his nails. We get a takeaway hot beverage, relax on some sofas on the street, and congratulate ourselves for being so early… Then Robin remembers we have forgotten half of the camera gear…
Coffee spilling all over her hands, Laura hauls ass back to the Wanaka Bakpaka. Gawd, we were almost there! We almost had a flawless morning.
Luckily for Laura’s lungs, a beasty 4×4 Wild Wire-branded car pulls up beside her with Robin’s head poking out of the window.
The Wild Wire team
We have a full car consisting of Mark, Robin, Laura, Marika from Germany, and Nina from Australia. Two of these people are afraid of heights but are bravely challenging themselves to climb 300m up alongside a series of waterfalls. One of them is Robin.
On our way to Twin Falls, Mark gives us some insights into the area we’re passing through including some of Wanaka’s famous rock climbing area, Hospital Flat.
A bumpy ride through a cow and deer field later, we are at the base of Twin Falls.
Gearing up for via ferrata
The base is no better place for going through the basics. We gear up with tidy harnesses with three carabiners, helmet, a detachable water bottle, and some fingerless climbing gloves. Man, those gloves make us feel epic! Mark then tells us what the hell is via ferrata?!
Via ferrata is our method of climbing the steep rock faces alongside the waterfall. Mark has used his 10 years of mountain guiding and rock climbing experience to implement a system of metal footholds, safety wires and bridges up, across and all over Twin Falls.
With an all essential safety briefing and a practice on a large boulder, this pretty much allows us to be independent climbers for the experience. Mark will lead the way supporting Nina, who is petrified of heights, then Robin, then the annoyingly chilled Laura and Marika.
The front door to adventure
The Wild Thing climbing tour starts with climbing through a wooden door sticking out of the rock face. It’s like: “Welcome to the home of adventure! Come in, come in… Don’t forget to take off your shoes…”
Immediately, we are impressed by how quickly the via ferrata system allows us to move up and along the mountain face, stopping regularly to clip and unclip onto the next section of safety wire. With three safety clips we are always attached to the wires, leaving our minds to focus more on the environment of these waterfalls.
The magnificent Twin Falls
Twin Falls cascades onto three tiers with shallow crystal clear pools. If we really wanted to, we could throw on our togs and go for a dip. Although we are steaming from the sun hitting us directly, we’re not sure we’re ready for a mountain spring water dip just yet…
The tiers also mark a place to stop for a quick snack break of Whittaker’s Chocolate and time to enjoy the vistas spread out before us! Lush green farmland, mountains layered before more mountains, and when we get high enough, Lake Wanaka is revealed. Who needs to climb the famous Roys Peak now, ay? Stick this view on your Instagram!
A climb for everyone
What’s more, this is the type of environment we would never be able to get to without these via farrata systems in place. As we discovered in Ohakune, Laura in particular is awful at indoor rock climbing let alone real rock climbing, so to have something easier than rock climbing, while still doing the climbing motion makes this activity so accessible. Most people could do it! Mark has had 7-year-olds to 78-year-olds take the tour!
Going up the next section of waterfall gets no more technically difficult, but the terrain gets more extreme. We are tackling sheer vertical faces, even touching the waterfall, and crossing from one side of the falls to the other over some bridges.
We’ve been on quite a few gnarly swingbridges in New Zealand so far, but the Wild Wire swingbridges are the best yet! We bounce up and down with each step along a narrow plank of wood. The planks only get narrower when they eventually turn into a tightrope-styled wire… Robin loves this…
The tightrope shuffle
He moves along the tightrope as fast as your walking frame-using grandmother but with the eyes of deer caught in the headlights. (A very specific description for you there). He tries with all his might to stop halfway across the wire to look at the waterfall fanning out over the rocks right beside him, but his instinct pushes him to the other side.
Lunch on top of the world at the base of the waterfall
The views get more and more outstanding as we climb to our own personal summit, the base of the highest waterfall. It’s safe to unattach our clips and sit at a homemade picnic table over some lunch. We talk about facing fears and reaching epic places. It’s an easy-going group today that we are having a blast sharing this experience with!
After token photos with the towering waterfall, the rest is all downhill on foot following some deer trails in the grassy mountainside. We clip in once again making us feel a lot better about the sheer drop to our side.
Good views, good company
The activeness, the adrenalin and the awesome scenery has us buzzing. The whole group doesn’t stop nattering all the way down to the car, where we say goodbye to our badass fingerless gloves and plough our way through cow and deer field. (Don’t worry, no cows or deer were hurt during the making of this exaggerated sentence).
A perspective of height
Once away from the falls, Mark pulls the car over so we can get a look at the falls from a distance, just to get some perspective of the heights we’ve climbed today – both mentally and physically. (Deep thoughts, bro).
It feels good to know that we’ve tamed some “wild wires” today. It has been an epic start to our week in Wanaka! Tomorrow, we’re going to Puzzling World. Yes, you read that correctly. There is some sort of Puzzling World that exists in Wanaka. Join us then!
And this is only halfway up Twin Falls! Theta 360 Loading...
Of course you do! Check out the rest of our guide on Wanaka and beyond:
- Wanaka – Guide for Backpackers
- Otago – Guide for Backpackers
- 12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand
See you tomorrow!