Monday, 10 November 2014

The Other Lake- Lake Rotoroa

It’s 42kms by road to Lake Rotoroa, the other big lake in Nelson Lakes National Park. Even though, as the crow flies (down to the bottom of our lake and over a mountain range), it’s only probably about 15kms. Arriving at the lake edge it looks very similar to Lake Rotoiti; a long narrow lake surrounded by mountains with a snow capped range at one end. Lake Rotoroa is a lot bigger than Rotoiti and we hear the fishing is better too; with both rainbow & brown trout, unlike Rotoiti which only has brown.

The lake has a similar jetty with a water taxi waiting and also protects the eels that live underneath the jetty. The water taxis transport trampers to & from the trail-heads at the far end of the lakes. There are quite a number of multi-day tramping tracks through the valleys and over the mountain ranges that join up both lakes.

This jetty has a picnic table on the platform at the end and a few tables scattered about on the lake front. Unless you are a fisherman or a tramper there’s not a lot to do at this lake although there are a couple of shorter walks for day visitors though one had a closed notice because of all the windfall on the track.

We wanted to have a look at the DOC campground as we thought we might bring the 5th-wheeler over here for a few days later in the week or stop off on our way to the West Coast next year. And just as well we did as we weren’t very impressed at all. The campground was located on a wide untidy grassy berm across the road from a few baches(holiday homes) and one road back from the lake. I don't think we'll be stopping here any time soon.

I thought this was the remains of a Maori waka (canoe) but in fact it belonged to Peter Johansen, a recluse who lived in solitude & eked out a living on the lake back during the 1920s & 30s.

You can click on the photo if you'd like to read more information-

After a speedy lunch on the lake front, and before we were eaten alive by sandflies, we decided to check out the Porika 4WD Track, a steep track that zig-zagged up the hillside beside the lake. Originally (and still) a service track for pylon maintenance it’s also a walking track and 4WD track with some magnificent views over the lake once you reach the top. Or should I say if you reach the top.

We only made it about a quarter of the way up before deciding to turn around and head back. It was too rocky and washed out for our "shiny’ and as the track was 10kms long we just didn’t want to bump & lurch our way all that distance there and back. We still got a nice view of the settlement down below and a little of the lake before we turned around. There were plenty of signs at the bottom telling us there were no turning areas but we managed to back into an elbow on one of the sharp corners without running off the edge.

Aside from a few baches there is one very grand lodge lakeside, Lake Rotoroa Lodge, a luxurious fishing lodge built in the 1920s and where the room rate for a couple is over $1000 a night. If you’re a keen fisherman you can be helicoptered anywhere in the park with a guide to help land you a big one. For a price of course. If you don’t fish then I think you might get a little bored out in the middle of nowhere.

Back on the road and heading home we stopped at the historic Kawatiri Railway Station site at the junction of SH6 (from Nelson) & SH63 to look at the old bridge and read about the railway station that used to be there.

For quite a distance along the Buller River valley the hills are swathed in yellow as the broom spreads out of control. Imagine the seed that going to come off this lot! Another introduced pest wreaking havoc in our countryside- but all the same, what lovely colours; the yellow broom, the green willow, the blue river & the rust red of the bracken.

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