Sunday, August 2, 2015

More Lake Ohau


Always on the road we listen when people urge us in a certain direction. Usually they're friendly guides who appear just when we need them, like Ada in Milford Sound, working at the only cafe there. She marked up a big map of Southland with her favorite places--and she was the principal reason we kept attempting to see more of The (glorious) Catlins. Ada also said not to miss the high country with enormous lakes we're seeing now, in her view the best places to see stars. She's from Hong Kong and has been working and traveling in NZ for a year, her mother arriving soon for a big finale visit.

Hi Ada...and thank you!
A few days ago, at Tyre Land Oamaru having the tire pressures checked, the energetic technician told us we must head west out of town to see this country before making our way up the east coast to Akaroa. When your guides' recommendations start overlapping, you must listen, and how providential that we did, driving to Omarama as a first stop (trouble viewing map click here). Pull out on the map once or twice to see the monsters Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo. At the very north end of Pukaki sits Aoraki/Mt Cook.

We've been camped in Omarama just 30 minutes from the pristine and virtually unpopulated Lake Ohau.

The drive there promised dramatic elevations.

Using the zoom, in the distance lie the highest peaks in the Southern Alps.
Lake Ohau in the Mackenzie High Country is cradled between the Ohau Range to the west in the Main Divide and the Ben Ohau range to the east.  In summer it is endowed with fine weather and long daylight hours and in winter with reliable snow.

While the area is known for the Ohau Snow Fields, and more and more the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail (ed. note: check out the gorgeous trail here) come the end of the ski season there are stunning wilderness areas to be explored by walking, hiking or biking further up the valley or around the Lodge during the summer months.

This is Ohau Lodge, with views to burn from its deck.

A flat white sounds just right for relaxing in the lodge's main rooms.

I'm just about ready to move in, but soon we'll be off for a walk.

A bowl of dried carved citrus

The Mackenzie Basin is the largest between-mountains basin in NZ and is part of the South Island's high country. The basin is ringed with rolling, tussock-clad mountains. All Mackenzie Basin rivers drain into the Waitaki River and out to sea near Oamaru (Steampunk, Victorian, cheese!).
Maori used this region for stone quarrying, eeling, and hunting birds, migrating from spring through autumn from the east coast. They also traveled across the basin between the west and east coasts (can you imagine?) trading pounamu, or greenstone. 

Location of Lake Ohau Lodge

Feast your eyes. I can't fill mine up.

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