Time marches on and we had to leave Invercargill for our next destination: Te Anau.

Fiordland Mountains

As we turned north away from the coast, we began to see the mountains of Fiordland National Park to the west.


The Manapouri Power Station is a huge hydroelectric installation providing power to the Tiwai Point aluminum smelter near Bluff. Its effect on the environment was one of the triggers of the New Zealand environmental movement.

When the power station came online in the 70s, it took so much water out of Lake Manapouri that it impacted property, wildlife, and recreation downstream. The power company and local stakeholders negotiated the Waiau Trust to manage the river downstream.

The Waiau Control Structure uses water from the Mararoa River to meet flow targets in the Waiau River while maintaining water levels in Lake Manapouri.

Kepler Track BridgeShortly after passing the control structure we drove upstream along the Mararoa River to the Kepler Track. To walk it in its entirety takes 3-4 days and is by reservation only due to the limited facilities along the track. We visited only a small portion of the trail.

Tramping, as it is called in NZ, is a popular activity. Every city has "Backpacker Hotels" that cater to trampers. They seem to be every nationality although we met a preponderance of young Germans, who may have been escaping the cold European winter.

What a great way to take a break after college or between jobs!

Mararoa River Overlook

In this area the trail was well-maintained (better than segments of the Appalachian Trail that I've walked) although Suzanne, who has hiked many of these tracks, says that they get more rugged as they get farther into the backcountry.

Some popular tracks require reservations more than a year in advance.

Regenerating Beech Forest

The forest in this area is primarily beech. It was not logged into oblivion because the trees are not commercial quality. Deer, however, have done extensive damage.

The undergrowth is regenerating now that most of the deer have been either captured or killed, but this picture shows the lack of understory.

New Zealand Beech Forest

I had to think of Fangorn Forest under these shadowy trees. Some segments of the Ring Trilogy were filmed near here.

Deer Farm

Deer and other game were introduced to NZ in the 19th century for sporting purposes. Without predators, their population exploded and they became pests destroying crops and native forest. Those of us in Virginia sympathize.

Active management of the deer population began in the 1920s and went through several stages ending in a combination of deer farming, as shown here, and open hunting. The write-up at the link mentions men who jumped from helicopters to kill or capture deer. Our guide Chas had been one of those men! He told some hair-raising stories. He has also been a deer farmer.

Lake Te Anau

Lake Te Anau, north of Lake Manapouri, is the largest lake in New Zealand by volume  although Lake Taupo has a larger surface area.

We enjoyed a short cruise on this lake.

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