Waitaki, Twizel, Lake Tekapo


After hiking for a few hours this morning I decided to leave Glen Mac farm stay and head north for Lake Tekapo via the spectacular Waitaki Valley.  The weather was good but they say another storm front in on the way. The Waitaki Valley is an unspoiled, untouched paradise with some of the best scenery in New Zealand.  The valley has a developing wine industry and the inspirational scenery includes snow-capped mountains, beautiful rivers and lakes, hiking trails, interesting vegetation and flowers, and limestone wonders.  There are spas and hot springs in the Mackenzie Basin and a soak at Alpine Springs is definitely on the agenda before I leave.

The scenery heading inland from the coast on Highway 83 includes small villages like Duntroon that still has a village Smithy.  Another village, Kurow (from Te Kohurau, the mountain of ‘many mists’), is a farming service center and has many historic limestone buildings.

Trout fishing is world-renowned in the Waitaki and Hakataramea Rivers. The Waitaki River is one of New Zealand’s largest and a major source of hydroelectric power. There are several dams and eight hydropower stations in the valley. Starting with Lake Tekapo the water from a series of lakes and canals generates electricity before it meets the Pacific Ocean.

Passed through Omarama (the place of moon or light),  a small town where  State Highways 83 and 8 meet. The town offers many outdoor activities including gliding, kayaking, water skiing, sailing, fishing, golf, and rowing.  The nearby fluted Clay Cliffs are another amazing attraction in the area but Omarama is most famous for unparalleled gliding conditions provided by the inland mountain ringed basin. There are two world records set in the area and the World Gliding Championships were held there during the summer of 1994-95.

Built in 1968 Twizel is New Zealand’s newest town.  Created as a greenfields project to service the Upper Waitaki Hydroelectricity Scheme the intention was to remove the town after completing the project. In 1983 its residents successfully fought to save Twizel.  Prior to 1968 the area was farmland. The town is laid out in a Scandinavian fashion, where the shops, school, and recreational parkland form a hub in the centre of the town. The design features looping roads and pedestrian ways making it more direct to walk than use a car.

In addition to all the other incredible things in the area there is an astronomical observatory on Mount John between Lake Tekapo and smaller Lake Alexandrina.  One of the hikes I plan to take (weather permitting) is a loop to the Mt. John summit.

My little cabin on Lake Tekapo is comfy and as I settled in noticed rabbits and ducks walking around – all amazingly tame and unafraid of humans.  I plan to stay at Lake Tekapo for a few days and explore this gorgeous area.  Hope the weather cooperates.

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