Canadian Rockies: Moraine Lake, Consolation Lakes, Marble Canyon + Paint Pots

Going to bed early the night before allowed us to wake up before dawn on Monday to get to the Moraine Lake area at sunrise… along with a hundred other people! Our planning paid off though because we scored one of the last few parking spots at 7am.

We scaled the giant rockpile and hung out to watch the sunrise.

early morning selfie @ Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake @ sunrise

Moraine Lake

After an hour and a half, we tore ourselves away from this gorgeous view to start the hike to Consolation Lakes.
There were many people at Lake Moraine but only a small fraction on this trail, so nice!

After an easy 40 minute hike, we got the first views of Consolation Lake…

Consolation Lake

Mount Babel

Mount Fay & Consolation Lake


To reach the shore you must scramble across a large boulder field – the views were worth it. The scene changed a lot after sun crested the ridge so I am glad we got there when we did.

On the way back, Eric took a quick detour to Taylor Lake. It was quiet and very scenic.

Taylor Lake

Back in the crowds around Moraine Lake, the water was even bluer now that the sun was in full effect. We found a comfy spot on the rock pile and people watched / rested our feet for another hour.

a canoe on Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake had truly stunning views and was well worth getting up early to see, a definite highlight of the trip.

Feeling like we made the most of our parking spot, we left for Marble Canyon in Kootenay NP. The short trail follows the sides of the narrow canyon with lots of crossings and pale blue rushing water. The trail terminates in front of a nice two-tiered waterfall.

Marble Canyon  Marble Canyon

The nearby Paint Pots were interesting as an add-on hike since we were in the area. It’s about a 25 minute RT with mostly muddy pits until the end where there were three green ponds with ochre rims. The trail was pretty exposed and hot in mid-afternoon but you need the sun to give the paint pots a worthwhile color.

Paint Pots

Paint Pots

After a quick shower back at the hotel, we walked to Sage Bistro across the street and ate upstairs in the Wine Lounge. I had a lovely Portuguese red (after the waitress talked me out of my original Canadian choice) and Eric went local-ish with the Blasted Church gewurztraminer. We split a creamy blue cheese plate ($8) and I had mussels with a tasty broth ($15) for my main while Eric choose the boar bacon mac & cheese ($16). It was plenty of food for us, everything was tasty. We weren’t even charged for extra bread, plus our waitress was super nice. Recommended.

Hot tub to end the night then some much deserved sleep after our early start!

New Zealand – drive to Wanaka

On our first morning we woke up early, feeling mostly refreshed after two previous evenings on planes. We decided to skip the pricey buffet breakfast at the hotel and just head back to the airport to pick up our rental car and begin our journey west.

It was a long drive to Wanaka, about five hours, with lots of farms full of sheep, cows and even deer. We noticed quite a few police cars in and around Christchurch but they thinned out as we left the metro area.

To break up the trip, we decided to stop at Peel Forest for the hike to Acland Falls. It was a pleasant walk with lots of bird calls and greenery – about an hour in and out. Perhaps more importantly, we ran into another couple on the tail end of their trip who highly recommended the Doubtful Sound cruise we had been considering.

Acland Falls
Acland Falls

At this point we were getting a bit peckish so we stopped outside Geraldine for late lunch at Valley Brewing Company. I had the beef, bacon and beer pie and Eric had the creamy tomato soup. Both dishes were very tasty and a good value. We also tried two of their beers, an amber (‘Valley Amber’) and a red ale (‘Muster’). Two other couples had tasting flight boards, but as this place is also a cafe, some folks came in just for a coffee in the late afternoon.

nz-lunch1  nz-lunch2
My tasty beef pie and the entrance to the restaurant (hops growing on the right)

We continued on and the landscape gradually became drier and hillier. Our next stop was Lake Tekapo with the picturesque Church of the Good Shepherd and gorgeous views across the lake.

Church of the Good Shepherd
Church of the Good Shepard

Lake Tekapo
Lake Tepako

30 minutes further was Lake Pukaki and even more views.

Mt Cook in the distance
Mt Cook in the distance across Lake Pukaki

After gassing up the car in Twizel, we made our way through Landis Pass with it’s dry landscape and twisty roads.

Landis Pass
Landis Pass view from the marked overlook

From here we continued another two hours to our destination for two nights, Wanaka.