Thursday, 16 July 2015

Majestic Mountains- Lake Hawea

While at Wanaka we did a road trip up SH8, along the edge of Lake Hawea headed towards Haast Pass. Our destination and turn-around point was the DOC camp at Boundary Creek, a few kilometres before Makarora and well before the Pass itself. We’re leaving Haast Pass until we head to the West Coast to do the southern half later this year or it may even be early next.

It was a cold and bitter day- it’s something that has caught us on the hop a little. Yes, we knew it was going to be cold down here, it is after all winter. But some days it's a bone chilling cold that gets under your skin and refuses to budge, even when you’re layered & wrapped up to the hilt. Some days it's hard to get active especially when it's lovely and warm in the van. The diesel heaters have more than earnt their keep. And you’ll notice I said heaters- more than one. We have had the one we left in Christchurch to be repaired returned to us in Wanaka and David re-fitted it with no issues.

The low cloud cover on this day didn’t help either, it always feels more dull and uninviting when there’s low cloud and rain waiting in the wings. We stopped at the Lake Hawea lookout which would have been a fabulous spot to view the mountains across the other side of the lake.....

...had the cloud not been so low.

Looking up the lake I decided that by the time we returned back along the road the cloud might have lifted enough for us to see the mountains and any snow that might be on them. Lake Hawea is huge, it’s narrow and very long, it stretches quite a distance up past the island you can see in this photo.

We follow the road high up above the lake before it passed through a cutting known as ‘The Neck’, a narrow pass that keeps Lakes Hawea & Wanaka apart.

Once through The Neck, Lake Wanaka appears, spread out in front of us with her mountain range in view across the lake.

We now drive along the lake edge at the top end of Lake Wanaka. We stop at the DOC camp at Boundary Creek for lunch but decide to move on when all we can hear are the high-pitched revs of numerous chainsaws. It’s a weekend and there are a number of groups collecting firewood from the lake shore.

We head back towards Lake Hawea, stopping a couple of times to check out roadside waterfalls and the view looking down Lake Wanaka.

We leave Lake Wanaka behind us and pull into The Neck so I can take a photo of Lake Hawea. What a stunning view, you couldn’t mistake this classic New Zealand scene with those cabbage trees in the foreground either. It must be a thrill for visitors to come over the brow of The Neck and have this sight appear in front of them- hopefully with no cloud cover. I can see that our cloud from this morning has lifted.

We drive down below the neck and take a side track that turns in and heads around the otherside of this arm of the lake. We want to check out another DOC Camp, Kidds Bush at Bushy Point. Unfortunately the camp site is closed for winter and the farmer has locked the access gate. So we turn around and pull onto a large open area not far from the gate and close to the lake to have our lunch. Lovely hot soup and a bread roll (or sometimes a sandwich) are our lunch of choice most days at the moment. Enough to warm the cockles and keep the afternoon chill at bay.

The road back along Lake Hawea is across the arm from our picnic site, running along the bottom of this ‘hill’, Isthmus Peak (1417m) which separates Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. To get an idea of the height, there’s a house on a plateau, centre right of the photo. What a fabulous view they have.

And here we are travelling that road along the bottom of Isthmus Peak, heading towards the mountain range that was under cloud on our way up this morning.

Looking back across the lake arm towards Bushy Point, somewhere in those tress on the middle left is the DOC camp. We’ll definitely look forward to staying there in the summer.

And what a majestic mountain range it is, it’s very steep, reaching straight up out of the lake.

I think these peaks are part of the Huxley Range, which is further behind and part of the Southern Alps. A private road to Dingle Burn Station runs right along the bottom of the range and around the corner past the island.

The two tallest mountains are Corner Peak (1661m), on the corner of course. And Dingle Peak (1833m) just to the side and behind.

And a final panorama- four photos stitched together- of Lake Hawea (remember to click to enlarge)

We took a drive through the deserted and forlorn looking campground at the bottom of the lake before having a afternoon tea on the foreshore by the holiday settlement of Lake Hawea. I’m sure the settlement and campground are full to overflowing in the summer but today it would seem we were the only ones about.

We drove back home via Hawea Flat where I ‘found’ another lovely country church to shoot, St Ninians Presbyterian Church, built in 1938.

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