Saturday, 12 April 2014

Mirror Lake & a Walk Wire

We had just about finished exploring every area between of the DOC Cascade Creek campground, where we were staying, & Milford Sound and with only a couple of days left before we were scheduled to leave the area it was time to explore our own campground & a number of areas of interest between Te Anau Downs & Cascade Creek. We had passed them often (more about that later) but hadn’t stopped to check them out.

Right beside us in the bush between the campground and Lake Gunn was the Lake Gunn Nature Walk, a 45 minute loop track through the beautiful beech forest to the lake edge & back. The carpark was near the entrance to the camp and whenever we passed it there were always 2-3 cars parked, a number of smaller tour buses also came daily.

Some of the Lord of the Ring scenes were filmed in this area and I can see why, the forest floor was thick with moss, thicker than I’d seen anywhere else and some of the huge beech trees have weird bulbous growths on their trunks. These were used for the Ents, the talking tree like beings in the film.

I had a bit of fun with a slow shutter speed while waiting for the rifleman to prepare for their photo shoot.

The bird life was prolific, although mainly out on the margins of the forest; I had a great time stalking and shooting the rifleman, tomtits & robin. And there was also another resident NZ falcon in the area which was terrorizing the local tui population on a regular basis.

Rifleman- Titipounamu
One of the first tour stops for the dozens of tour buses travelling the Milford Road each day are the Mirror Lakes. The “lakes” are located right on the edge of the road & are more a backwater of the Eglinton River, deep pools formed thousands of years ago by glacial movement. This was the one area that I hadn’t managed to get a blue sky day so I wasn’t holding out much hope in getting some good reflections. A boardwalk along the edge and a couple of platforms over the lakes gave good views over the water to the Earl Mountains behind.

But as beautiful as the lakes were between the duck weed & the NZ scaups- Papango  (small diving ducks) there really wasn’t much hope of getting a still & clear reflection, the scaups kept swimming past and diving deep disturbing the water. And to be honest I saw far superior reflections in the tarns at the top of Key Summit.


Still, once the buses moved on & before any more arrived, it was a very beautiful & peaceful spot. I spoke to this Maori guy who was travelling through the country teaching music to various schools, in particular writing music that sounded like the various birds of the forest. He had seen the robin that we were clearing leaf litter for on the boardwalk and went off to his car, coming back with an assortment of instruments, he selected a flute and walked out to a rock ledge overlooking the lake and started playing a few notes. Before long the robin flew in from down the track attracted by the tune; see the robin on the seat checking out the music. How cool!

Even though the reflections let us down we had great fun watching a number of large trout swimming about in the clear water & the scaup diving under the logs that were in the pond looking for food on the pond floor.

One more sign I had to shoot on the road home-

I had read about our last walk a couple of times on different forums but hadn’t found any reference to it any brochures. But as luck would have it, it was just a 5 minute drive from Cascade Creek. Part of a much longer tramp, this walk would only take about 30 minutes return. After all the swingbridges we’d seen I wanted to see the simpler version, a walkwire. Basically just 3 supported cables, two for the hands & one for the feet. And of course I had to try it out. It was firm enough but quite wobbly once you got to the middle. Better than getting your feet wet of course.


While David was taking my photo on the wire, a robin flew in to check out his binoculars and then helped himself to the grubs we exposed under the moss on the log. Very cute!



  1. Once again, a thoroughly entertaining blog which I've read to my husband. Lovely pictures of the scaup(s?) and the robin and some good tips on places to go when we get to that area again. Thanks.


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