Thursday, 16 June 2016

Moke Lake Walk

Catch-up, another quick post to tie up some loose ends.

You'll remember we spent 5 (or was it 6) days at Moke Lake 20 kms out of Queenstown before we headed to Glenorchy. Unfortunately, while it was fine the day we arrived, the heavens then opened up and it rained solid for the rest of our time there (the story of our lives recently). On the morning that we had decided to move back to Queenstown to wait out the weather, it dawned fine and as I really wanted to walk the track around the lake before we left, I set off to do it while David prepared the van to pull out.

Moke Lake is a stunning little body of water tucked behind the Ben Lomond range which forms the backdrop to Queenstown. It's only a short distance but it could be a million miles away from the busy tourist town, it feels remote and isolated. Well it does when it's late autumn and cold and raining. We were the only ones there most nights and other than two or three cars visiting during the day, we had the place to ourselves.

The information sign says it's a 2-3 hour walk around the lake, I'm hoping it'll take a little less....David might be able to pick me up on the way out, where the track joins the road. I walk along the lake edge following the track up into the Matagouri scrub. Looking back I can see the van tucked in under the range to the right and the Ben Lomond Station woolshed on the left.

Looking down the lake towards the burn between Lake Dispute and Moke Lake. There is a walk to Lake Dispute and on to the end (or beginning) at the Glenorchy Road. I'll have to leave that one for another time.

The weather is starting to cloud over but the lake stays calm. Can you see 'Out There' over there? 

It's an easy walk with magnificent views and very peaceful with just a few birds for company.

Across the water I can see my track cutting through the side of the hill. I'm assuming it's the bottom one as the top track looks like it runs on down towards the other lake. Moke Lake is shaped like a horseshoe and the track over the otherside is along the piece of land that juts into the lake.

At the bottom of the lake the path splits in two and I cross the stile and make my way over the boggy ground and along a boardwalk that crosses a couple deep and fast flowing water ways.

After a gradual climb up the other side I can see that the burn (wetland) is wide and long. I can see quite a lot of waterfowl feeding in amongst the reeds below and I guy in a bright red kayak paddles by. Where did he come from?

It's time to get moving, the weather is closing in fast and rain is starting to fall.

I pass this cute mini dozer with toy sized tracks sheltering under a tree. The recent weather had put paid to DOC's widening and re-graveling of the track. It's a pity, because further on (where a small tractor is also located), it becomes a boggy mess after all the rain. 

I finally reach the spot where I wanted to take a photo looking back towards camp, this is at the point of land that sticks out into the lake. But it's raining quite heavily now so I quickly take a couple of shots and then tuck my camera back in its water-proof bag...

...and head off down the track towards the road. I forget to check my lens and now I have  a big spot in the cloud to remind me of how wet (and cold) it was on the walk.

This is Bob's Peak, the real Bob's Peak. There's a hill that's part of the Ben Lomond Range in Queenstown that they call Bob's Peak, it's where a number of tourist adventure activities happen- the gondola, luge, mountain biking, bungy- but this is the real McCoy. It just happens that the name Bob's Peak has fallen into common usage for the other hill.

I reach the road in good time and can see that David is hitching up in the pouring rain, I call him up on the walkie-talkie to tell him not to rush I'll walk back along the road. The walk took just over an hour in the end well under the DOC sign's indication which is weird because usually we're behind their times. At least I can say that I've walked the track now and I managed to do something constructive with my time at Moke Lake after sitting the rain out day after day. I'm happy!

We might not have seen many humans while we were camped at the lake but we were surrounded by wildlife; this flock of Californian Quail swept through camp a number of times, calling and chattering to each other has they moved under the van and along the grass in front of us. I tracked the Grey Warbler/Riroriro for ages through the matagouri, getting close a number of times before it would fly deeper into the thorns. Finally I caught up with it resting and preening right in the thick of it. Not great shots for me but at least it felt safe.

I wanted to ask this motley lot if they were certified self-contained before they set up camp beside the kitchen block, but they just turned their backs and hobbled off.

Thirteen merino rams joined us after a couple of days, they'd been separated from a bigger flock that had been taken further up the road.

They certainly looked like they were in need of a good dose of R&R after competing with their mates for the attention of the ewes for the last few weeks. Most had a limp, some had two sore legs. 

Unfortunately, they looked more bedraggled than ever, after a few days of rain. I love their soft wrinkly noses.


  1. Moke Lake and it's DOC campground was a great discovery for us with my son and I camping here twice so far this year - firstly in late Jan for 5 nights and then again during the last school holidays in April - when we just missed you!
    We loved camping here and I have to say our weather was much better than yours, one very frosty morning on the April trip but beautiful days. We took our kayaks both times, it's a great lake for kayaking on.
    Did the walk both visits too, well under the two hours that DOC said. A real treat on the January trip was finding some gooseberry bushes in full fruit towards the end of the walk! Delish!

  2. It is a lovely site isn't Lisa, we'll be back when the weather id warmer and we can get out the boat. Gooseberry bushes! Now that is a find, I bet there wouldn't be too many people who'd realise what they were.

  3. Lovely birds and sheep! It's actually D.O.C.'s aerial photos of Moke Lake that lured me into motorhoming. Ironic enough, we haven't stayed there yet! This is a plce that warrants a few quiet days, not to be rushed. We save it for next trip.

    1. Yes, you'll enjoy it Offstone, but as you say, take a few days there. You can also go horse treking right behind the camp.

  4. Yes Shellie, we only knew about the gooseberries when we were walking the track and ran into the camp manager's wife and a couple of their friends. Redcurrants in the same place which the friend was going to take away and turn into jelly.
    I'm now faced with the indecision of whether this is now our new favourite spot to holiday or if Gunn's Camp in the Hollyford still heads the list!

    1.'ll have to tell me where they are if we're back in the season. I think Hollyford would win out for me.


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