Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Lake Te Anau

 Lake Te Anau

It seems like another day, another lake. We have just arrived after a four hour journey from Lake Wanaka. We have a big day tomorrow: our cruise along Doubtful Sound, so we didn't want to do anything too demanding and a nice little walk along the lake shore, directly from our motel seemed ideal. The lake is the second largest in New Zealand (after Lake Taupo) so we would only see one small corner of it.

We started by walking along a pavement with the lake on one side and the road on the other. Diagonally opposite was Mount Titiroa (1715m). It is not in fact snow capped - the appearance of snow is due to its white granite peak catching the sunlight. To the right of  Mount Titiroa are the Kepler mountains, where there is a famous three-day tramping (walking) trail.

Further along the shoreline the path passes the Dept of Conservation office and reached the DOC Wildlife centre, which accommodates a mixture of native birds. The highlight is the flightless Takahe, which has been saved from extinction by careful conservation efforts.

The path now goes through native bush and emerges in a more open area with palms and ferns.

Eventually you reach the end marker for today's efforts: the control gates where the River Waiau leaves Lake Te Anau. This is an impressive engineering feat and is part of an even more extraordinary story. The river runs into Lake Matapori and water from Lake Matapouri in turn feeds the remarkable underground hydro-electric power station built on the far side of that lake. The control gates are part of the overall management of the flow of water.

The river is not very wide by New Zealand standards and shows a very confused flow as it emerges from the gates.

I couldn't resist the rather droll sight of a pair of abandoned boots to one side of the gates. What was their story?

After this we retraced our steps for a much needed aperitif before researching Te Anau's restaurants.

Conditions: hot, sunny.

Distance: about 5 miles there and back.

Rating: four stars.


In one of the several little bays I spotted this White Faced heron. He seemed comfortable in my company and continued wading near the shoreline in search for fish as I crept closer.  This is not an especially rare bird, but I admired its slim, delicate form.

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