It’s our second day in raining Te Anau. We were going to try to hike the last part of the Routeburn track, but weather has not cooperated. So no backpacking for us this trip. Only Greg and I (Maureen) are disappointed. Many hikers had to be emergency helicoptered out from the prior day, and more than 40 were trapped in a non-heated shelter for the night in 60 mph winds and freezing temperatures. The only plus is that the New Zealand tax dollars pay for your transport. We talked to a few hikers that made it through and it was three days of zero visibility and nonstop rain. Bullet dodged.
Instead we drove into the Fiordland National Park in the Southern Alps on the southwest section of the South Island to do a day hike. Have I mentioned rain. The drive begins though a grass and wild flower valley leading to steep jagged rock mountains. One thing rain brings is dozens of waterfalls cascading everywhere. Also, the Hollyford River was raging! We did manage to gear up and hike for about an hour starting over a precarious swing bridge. It was cold though the terrain is similar to rainforest. After back to Te Anau, were the sun came out finally. BBQ and evening hike around Lake Te Anau.
15,000 years ago during the last ice age, a huge glacier moving from the north west carved out what is now Lake Wakatipu. The lake is relatively thin, but the mountains run straight into the lake, forming a deep canyon, 399m at its deepest point.
Lake Wakatipu is the second largest lake in the Southern Lakes District, covering 290 square km. At its widest point Lake Wakatipu is five kilometers wide, and the total length is 84km.
The Maori legends state that the giant Matau was burnt to death in his sleep after he abducted a chief's daughter, burning a massive hole in the ground and melting the ice and snow of the surrounding mountains, forming the lake. The lake is a large "S" shape, like a giant, curled up and sleeping on its side. Matau's head rested at Glenorchy, at the north of the lake, and his feet south in Kingston. Queenstown sits on Matau's knee.
One of Wakatipu's mysteries is the rise and fall of the lake by about 12cm (5") every five minutes. Legend states that a Giant's heart is impossible to destroy, and causes this rise and fall, while science says it is due to fluctuating atmospheric pressures. But across the lake from the town below Cecil Peak is a little island visible only from up close, from above, or from a different angle. Some say Hidden Island is the still beating heart of the Giant Matua...