Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Kuripapango Lakes

We're back at the summit, David needed to phone a couple of people so I took the opportunity of posting another couple of blogs- it's been overcast & drizzly the last couple of days so I've had plenty of time to write blogs.

Also known as The Lakes, the Twin Lakes or the Kaweka Lakes, these two tiny lakes with the many names were formed thousands of years ago after a massive slip from Mt Kuripapango filled the valley and blocked the path of two streams. Only the slightly larger western lake (8 hectares) has an outflow- a small underground stream, although the smaller eastern lake (5 hectares) occasionally overflows into the bigger lake.

The Lakes are about a 15km drive away from camp, back along the main road towards Napier and then down a forestry road for 7-8 kms. At the moment the more direct route is closed due to logging operations in the commercial Kaweka Pine Forest. There are numerous walks and tramping tracks from the trail head up and over the Kaweka Ranges. And not too far from the carpark, another one of HB’s three main rivers, the Tutaekuri flows by. You’ll remember this was the river that I reminisced about on the Otatara Pa blog.

I am loving all the new DOC sign boards around the countryside, detailed information on the area with maps, good indications of the degree of difficulty each track is and with reasonably accurate walking times.

The Lakes walk is about an hour long and other than a couple of downhills- one through the old pine forest at the beginning and the other, a sharp incline down to the western lake at the end- it’s all pretty easy walking. The summer growth of ferns and bracken crowd the track in places but it’s lovely to be back in the bush and have the whole place to ourselves!

The bush is alive with the deafening sounds of cicadas, they are clicking and chirping from every advantage point along the way and lifting up from the ground, where I’m sure they have been sunbathing, as we approach. These are native Chorus Cicadas- Kihikihi and the males have beautifully sparkling copper coloured wings and dark green patterned bodies.

In amongst the flying cicadas are a number of slow flying & noisy Bush Giant dragonflies- Kakapowai, who are using the cleared track as a flight path for their next hunting mission, whirring up and down the open area and landing occasionally on a nearby trunk or in one case, the peak of David’s cap. Dragonflies are voracious hunters, taking their prey on the wing. Prey includes flies, cicadas (no surprise there), wasps & butterflies. The Bush Giant dragonfly is about 82cm long and the larva live in long, mud, peat or clay tunnels for about six years before emerging as an adult. They’re also known as the devil’s darning needle. What a beautiful creature!

There are many tiny native (and a few introduced) flowers blooming along the way. There are over 280 native plant species in and around the lakes, many uncommon and nationally significant. I was on the lookout for the native hooded orchid but didn’t manage to find any.

There were masses of tiny, usually pink or white, flowers that could be easily missed by the average walker. They’re often hidden under the leaves of the bush or just so tiny they disappear amongst the many shades of green. I’m still learning some of names, the top & middle left are Snowberries, the middle right is Eyebright and I should know the bottom groundcover as it used to grow throughout my large native garden back in Tauranga. It’s Panakenake a creeping herb. It’s loves damp conditions, one of the reason it grew prolifically around our pool overflow.

Another native that I had in my garden was the Kiokio fern with it’s beautiful copper coloured new fronds. Although I believe mine was the common Kiokio whereas this is the mountain kiokio- I can’t see the difference.

We finally reach the top of the track down to the larger lake and which we can see through the trees. The smaller lake is on the far side and out of view.

Down at lake level and David is off to set up his rod, there are lots of fish jumping all over the lake and plenty close into shore. They don’t look all that big and spit the hook quickly, everytime David throws something at them. These are small brown trout and are much smaller than their river cousins due to the cold water temperatures and lack of nutrients.

I go for a wander up to the lake head to see if there is any bird life, a couple of mother ducks with ducklings scarper off at full speed and a black backed seagull overhead, is all I found.

Along the way I do my bit for conservation, pulling out the pinus contorta (or wildling pine) seedlings growing on the lake edge. Going by the odd dried up seedling, I see someone else has been doing the same. Pinus contorta are spreading aggressively throughout New Zealand, smothering native bush and alpine grasslands and are a major pest. Originally chosen for their rapid growth in commercial forests and to control erosion elsewhere they soon escaped their confines to spread hundreds of thousands of seeds each year through our native forest and grasslands.

David’s still trying his luck when I get back so I wander off into the reeds to see what insects I can find.

There are dozens of Common Copper butterflies flying about feeding on the tiny white flowers- Eyebright & Panakenake- blooming in amongst the rocks and wetland grasses. I try to sneak up on them but they are pretty flighty and take off at the slightest movement or shadow.

There are plenty of bumblebees collecting nectar from these legume flowers.

And around the reeds are flying dozens and dozens of damselflies in various stages of copulation! Both Blue and Redcoat damselflies. I love the male’s big blue eyes in this shot & the way he is gripping the reed- holding on for dear life? Ol’ Blue Eyes maybe?

The focus is a little out on some of these- aside from the stiff wind that was blowing, it’s very hard to grab a focus point on something so small let alone when it’s being whipped about on the grass. The red one is the male, the brown the female. The two damselflies in the middle have formed what is called a ‘copulation wheel’ according to my insect book, interesting that his bits must be up the top end and hers down the bottom. Great how the male has grabbed the neck of the female, there ain’t no way she’s getting away!

My insect book is a little thin on it’s bugs but I think this is a Solider Fly of some sort on the left. It has an interesting looking tail end to it, like a tiny spanner to grab hold of something? On the right is a ‘worse for wear’ Red Admiral butterfly.

David has no luck so we sit on the bank and have a bite to eat before heading back, all the while the fish are taunting him, leaping into the air, doing backward flips and belly-flops right out in front of us.

Just before the end of the track we have our first encounter with another human being. A human being and his best friend happily wagging his tail at us. Another person who can’t read. Grrrrrr……..


  1. Great information about a lesser known gem of NZ

    1. Thanks, yes we love Kuripapango. Can't wait to return.


Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's much appreciated.