After two fantastic sunny days in Fjordlands, the day started cloudy with a little drizzle. Not really surprising, as this area is known for the huge amount of rain! That we had so much blue sky so far is the more surprising part. And a great place to start a drizzly day is a visit to the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary.
In the photo above you can see a special bird called the Takahe, where the parent is feeding its young. The Takahe bird was thought to be extinct in 1898, but was rediscovered in this area in 1948. This nearly extinct species is still very much endangered, nowadays there only about 300 Takehe birds alive in the world. And seeing three of them together was quite special!
Seeing the difference between the male and the female bird is quite difficult. The way to spot that is to look at the size of their beaks, otherwise they look quite identical. The difference between the parent and young is much clearer, as you can see in the photo above. The colours of the beak are much less bright, and also the colours of the feathers differ slightly.
A Takahe birds gets about 50 cm in size and in the wild lives about 15 years, although in captivity this can be longer.
Aside from the Takahe, all other birds are here as they have been hurt or need support in some other way. As soon as they have recovered from their injuries they are released back into the wild.
On the way to Wanaka town
Road is named Devils Staircase
The Devils Staircase
From the birds sanctuary in Te Anau we had a 3 hour drive towards the north ahead of us, to the town of Wanaka. The day started of cloudy with some rain, but by the time we got around half way through our drive, we started to see some clear blue sky and we had great views from the curvy road, also known as the ”Devils Staircase”.
The contrast of the colours, of the clear blue colour of Lake Wakatipu against the golden yellow of the grasses, all framed by low hanging clouds that are clinging to the mountain tops was quite amazing.
The light around the lake was strange and mesmerizing at the same time, no matter in which direction we looked. Needless to say that we took many stops on this stretch of road to take in the beautiful views and ever changing and fascinating skies.
The further we drove along this stretch of road, the clearer the sky seem to become.
Arrowtown with old Gold Rush Chinese settlement
2 hours north of Te Anau, and rather close to the city of Queenstown, is the village of Arrowtown. This used to be a former gold rush city, and the old village centre looks still much like how it was in the olden days. But all the old houses have now been occupied by shops and restaurants, making it quite a bit of a tourist trap.
While driving and hiking we quite regularly laugh at the creativity of the names given to river, creeks, beaches and streets. Not very ‘romantic’ names though, making you very eager to want to visit a place! Would you for example dream of going to ”Pea soup Creek”, ”Stinking River” or ”Dead Man Beach”? But to put any of your fears to rest: these were all actually very beautiful places 🙂
Just off the old town centre you can walk to the Chinese settlement, where read the history of the Chinese settlers that arrived here at the end of the gold rush era and get an impression of their living conditions.
Old Tom House
Typical house of Gold Rush era
Height 190 , area 6 square meter with fireplace/chimney
Hike around Diamond Lake
Up 350 meter, length 5 km
After having enjoyed a lazy afternoon and waiting for the worst of the rain to pass, we were off to Diamond Lake around 13:00, where we were greeted by quite a lot of autumn colours and a lingering drizzle of rain.
The trail was quite easy to hike in the beginning, with rather crazy trees bowing over the trail.
On the way to Lake Wanaka Lookout
Halfway to the top we got a great view over Diamond Lake
View over lake Wanaka
At Wanaka Lake Lookout Point
A small waterfall; Thunder Creek Falls:
A short walk to Blue Pools, small creek with amazing colors
Orchidaceae xxx endemic to New Zealand
Lake Matheson (Mirrow Lake)
Red Pine tree
Hike to Stig Point atbxxx
Beautiful West Cost of New Zealand