Lake Wanaka

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CRUISING LAKE WANAKA

Lake Wanaka is New Zealand’s fourth largest lake, and like the three larger ones can cut up rough, at times! It is, indeed, a lake of contrasts – often sunny, benign and almost suburban in Roys Bay, in the vicinity of the tourist mecca of Wanaka township, and very wild and unforgiving on a bad day up towards Makororo. On the border of Mt Aspiring National Park, Lake Wanaka is a magnificent place for a varied holiday of sailing, tramping, and other outdoor pursuits, with the civilities of the township – several excellent restaurants for instance – to provide the occasional break. Two weeks on the lake is not too long to explore it properly – and there are even sandfly-free spots to be found!

 Roys Bay looking west towards Eely Point, with Ruby Island at the left. It is possible to tuck in inshore of the permanent moorings for a reasonably quiet overnight stop.

Roys Bay looking west towards Eely Point, with Ruby Island at the left. It is possible to tuck in inshore of the permanent moorings for a reasonably quiet overnight stop.

SOME BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE LAKE AND ITS WEATHER

Wanaka is 45.5 km long, with a surface area of 180 km2. It is of glacial origin, scoured out by ice to a depth of 311 m at its deepest point, with moraines and river terraces in the vicinity of the present lake outlet, the Clutha River, acting as a dam.

Mean annual rainfall at Wanaka airport is 700 mm/year, fairly evenly spread through the year. Rainfall increases steadily towards the Divide: 1,460 mm at Minaret Bay and 2,390 mm at Makaroro Station to the north of the lake. With the vast amount of rainfall in the lake’s 2,590 km2 catchment, water quality is very high (the lake is classified as oligotrophic), although floods can cause significant discoloration by suspended sediment. Sailors also should keep a good watch for floating logs and wood, particularly after large floods.

There are around 2,000 hours of sunshine in the southern part of the lake; the mean daily maximum and minimum temperatures at Wanaka in January are 23.9°C and 10.8°C (8.4°C and -1.2°C in July). For a yacht, water temperature might be more significant than air temperature; surface water temperature generally is around 13°C in January, and around 15-16°C in February-March, the warmest months.

The predominant airflow over Mt Aspiring and the Main Divide is from the west and northwest, as the windrose for Wanaka airport shows. There is also a significant component of southeasterly winds – Wanaka’s equivalent of a sea breeze, which can reach 20 knots in the evening. The observations at the airport show a rather surprising 2% (only) of calms.

Wind directions at the airport are somewhat affected by its location at the north end of the Pisa Range, and winds on the lake are even more strongly influenced by topography, because moving air tends to go round rather than over obstacles. Typically, then, under north to northwest conditions the wind blows from the north directly and strongly down the northern arm of the lake, is funneled between the two islands Mou Waho and Mou Tapu and The Peninsula, and diverges out into Bishops Bay and towards Roys Bay. Northerly winds are commonly strong down Stevensons Arm, also. Winds commonly are particularly strong and gusty in the area between Mou Tapu, Roys Peninsula, The Peninsula, and Damper Bay; it can be blowing 25-30 knots here, while there is a 5-10 knot breeze at the marina in Roys Bay. In other words, great caution is advisable before venturing out onto the main body of the lake: check for whitecaps before sailing past Eely Point under full main! Glendhu Bay tends to have relatively light winds, but yachts heading towards the anchorage in Parkins Bay may well encounter severe gusts sweeping down from Paddock Bay. Also, when out on the main body of the lake, crews should keep an eye open for a dark line on the water advancing towards them from windward, accompanied by the noise of surf. You have about two minutes to put a reef in the main!

 Wind rose kindly provided by Alistair McKerchar of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

Wind rose kindly provided by Alistair McKerchar of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

As with most South Island lakes, there is a strong diurnal variation in winds, with calmest conditions commonly experienced in the early morning, a breeze blowing up from mid to late morning, and rather robust conditions through the afternoon.

 In the northern part of the lake, looking north along the glacial trough which the lake now occupies. Minaret Bay is at the left.

In the northern part of the lake, looking north along the glacial trough which the lake now occupies. Minaret Bay is at the left.

OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION

These notes are based on several visits to Lake Wanaka, but we acknowledge that local sailors have far more extensive knowledge of the varying moods of the lake than we do. Two older cruising notes/guide have been useful to Silmarillion’s crew, Lake Wanaka: a cruising guide, by Lenore and David Strang (NZTYA Newsletter, May 1994), and A trilogy of lakes: some notes about sailing on the Central Otago lakes Hawea, Wanaka and Wakatipu (provided to us by the Otago trailer yacht squadron). Sea Spray also published a very interesting article, Six days on Lake Wanaka, by David Strang in February 1986.

Other essential items are the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s Boating Guide: Lakes Wanaka & Hawea, and the Department of Conservation leaflet Lake Wanaka’s Islands.
The lake is covered almost completely by NZTopo50 map CA12 (Minaret Bay), with the area to the north of Albert Burn on BZ12 (Makororo) and Ruby Bay on CB12 (Cardrona).

BOAT RAMPS AND OTHER FACILITIES

There is really only one launching site that we would use for launching and recovering Silmarillion, that at the marina in Wanaka township. There are three concrete ramps, a jetty, ample parking, a nice toilet, and the yacht club. Wanaka township has pretty much everything one is likely to need – supermarket, good hardware store, fuel, Mexican restaurant, boat dealer. There are other launching places, such as from the beach at Glendhu motor camp, but there is little reason to use those in the vicinity of Wanaka township in preference to the marina. On the road in from Haast Pass, there is a launching ramp at Wharf Creek that exists primarily to serve boats crossing to the stations on the western side of the lake. (A ramp at Camp Creek further south is not marked on the QLDC Boating Guide or NZTopo50 map). They might be possibilities for a yacht coming in from and returning to the West Coast, but they are reported to be short, exposed to the northwest, and not usable at low lake levels.

THINGS TO DO

To explore the lake takes a good week of fine weather. The most popular part of the lake is to the south of Mou Waho, and rather few boats venture north thereof. The northern arm is exposed to strong northerlies which work up quite a chop, and it is quite a lonely place – cars on SH6 heading to and from Haast Pass may not recognise a yacht in trouble.

There are numerous beaches around the lake shore that provide warm and sunny spots for lazing – depending on wind direction, of course. Perhaps the most popular of all (apart from the Glendhu motor camp shoreline) is the beach on Stevenson’s Island; there are beaches also at the southeast end of The Peninsula, on the northwest shore of Bishops Bay, at Bremner Bay, Damper Bay and Colquhoun’s Beach. Incidentally, there are a number of ski lanes that yachts should avoid – see the QLDC Boating Guide.

There are lots of walks and other activities around Wanaka; a particularly good source of information is DoC’s leaflet Wanaka Outdoor Pursuits – and a visit to the DoC office in Wanaka (phone 03-443-7660) is a must before heading out onto the lake, if only to get the updated 5-day weather forecast. The Damper Bay track from Wanaka round to Glendhu, the Eely Point Walk, Beacon Point Walk and Outlet Track from Wanaka all the way round to Albert Town bridge, and the Minaret Burn Track all provide well-graded walks with fine views of the lake – a pleasant change from being on board. Away from the lake shore, there are numerous other opportunities for exercise, perhaps during a break from life afloat.

The yacht club at Wanaka has well-attended races on Thursday evenings, starting at 5 p.m. The trailer yacht fleet includes several Noelex 25s, and participation in a race could be a highlight of a visit to the lake.

ANCHORAGES

The three sketch maps mark anchorages throughout the Lake (note differing scales). Silmarillion has used most of those marked for overnight stops, except for those few that are suitable for southerly conditions (for some reason – perhaps because they tend to be quite short-lived – we have never encountered southerlies on Wanaka!). We haven’t provided the level of detail for anchorages that is found in a coastal cruising guide because, somehow, identifying the right spot to anchor in a bay in a lake seems to be easier than in a tidal bay, and is very dependent on the direction and strength of wind on the day. At all locations marked on the sketch maps, it is possible – and in most cases desirable – to tie the stern back into the shore, with the anchor in deeper water offshore.

The suitability of all the anchorages mentioned depends both on wind direction/strength, incoming swell, and lake level, which can vary over 3 m. There are none that are reliably all- weather, so skippers should be flexible in their plans, and be prepared to return to the marina if the weather forecast is unpromising or conditions deteriorate.

A skipper and crew should always keep a good lookout for underwater hazards – especially fence lines and sunken logs – when coming into an intended anchorage. This is especially true in places like Homestead Bay near the mouths of the major rivers, as inflowing rivers carry a lot of floating debris into the lake during heavy rain. There are a few navigational hazards, principally fence lines, rocks and shallows, few of which are marked. The skipper is responsible for the safety of his/her boat, so keep a good lookout, especially off points!

Southern lake (see sketch map A)

In Roys Bay, overnight mooring is possible inside the permanent moorings about 0.5 km west of the yacht club, although this place is subject to waves coming in from the main lake in a strong northerly. Alternatively, it is possible to moor on the west side of Ruby Island, which is surprisingly sheltered in view of its exposure. The bottom drops steeply and is rocky so the holding is not good, except at the northern end where there are shallows and shelter is provided by a spit.

 The beach on the southwestern side of Stevenson’s Island. There is a campsite here, and tracks lead off in various directions. Skippers should keep an eye out for a reef at the western end of the beach.

The beach on the southwestern side of Stevenson’s Island. There is a campsite here, and tracks lead off in various directions. Skippers should keep an eye out for a reef at the western end of the beach.

An especially popular destination is Stevenson’s Arm (although beating up through the narrows can be hard work in a northerly). The beach on the southwestern side of Stevenson’s Island is a beautiful spot, and there is also a sheltered beach on the eastern side of the island as well as another sheltered spot on the mainland just to the east of the island. All these are deservedly popular. There are pleasant walks on Stevenson’s Island (it is a weka sanctuary), and also campsites (so other boaties may be in residence, too). The islet to the south of Stevenson’s Island has a small north-facing beach that could provide southerly shelter.

At the southern end of Stevenson’s Arm, on the point at Mt Burke station, there is a small, sandy beach that provides good shelter and a pleasant anchorage, although it is right next to the station’s outbuildings. At the northeast corner of Dublin Bay, at the mouth of Rods Creek, is another sheltered spot, although there is a fishing bach here and probably a few cattle. There are beaches on the southeastern shore of The Peninsula opposite, although these are not suitable for overnight stops except in very settled conditions. In entering this part of the lake, skippers should stay outside the beacons that mark the end of the shoal extending out from Beacon Point, and also should keep an eye out for Bull Island.

In the southwestern part of the lake, the most popular anchorage is at a small beach on the northwestern shore of Parkins Bay, next to a conspicuous rock outcrop. This spot is remarkably sheltered from the prevailing westerlies/northerlies, given the violent way that the wind gusts out of Paddock Bay. It is possible also to anchor right at the western end of Parkins Bay, at a very sheltered beach, and there is also a small beach in the sheltered cove on the peninsula at the north side of Glendhu Bay – its main drawback is that the sun doesn’t reach the beach until around 10 a.m. Southerly shelter is reported at the southeast corner of Paddock Bay.

 Parkins Bay, looking across to Glendhu Bluff. Beyond Silmarillion, there is a deep, enclosed embayment which may also be looked at as a possible anchorage.

Parkins Bay, looking across to Glendhu Bluff. Beyond Silmarillion, there is a deep, enclosed embayment which may also be looked at as a possible anchorage.

Two more anchorages that offer northerly shelter in the most popular, southern part of the lake are at Homestead Bay and Fisherman’s Cove. Homestead Bay features quite a lot of driftwood on the beach – not a good sign – but is popular with waterfowl – usually a good sign! (Keep an eye open for submerged fence posts, also). It also offers easy access to the track across to Colquhoun’s Beach, so is a good spot from which to get some exercise. As wind strength increases out on the lake, both Homestead Bay and Fisherman’s Cove become increasingly subject to gusts and waves coming down the lake from the north. (This is true, of course, of any anchorage). Southerly shelter is reported at the southeast corner of Homestead Bay, although Silmarillion’s explorations weren’t very promising. In any case, the shallows in Homestead Bay that are created by sediment brought down the Matukituki River must be treated very carefully.

Northern arm of the lake (see sketch map B and C)

North of Mou Tapu, sheltered anchorages are rather widely spaced, and the lake is much more wild than in the southern part. In most places, the hillsides plunge steeply down to the lake edge, and the lake bottom drops off steeply to a flat bottom up to 300 m deep. There are reports of anchorages at the mouth of Rumbling Burn and Minaret Burn, but these must be very dependent on suitable lake levels, as Silmarillion hasn’t found them yet.

Proceeding northwards, there is a small area of shallows and beach that provides northerly shelter 1.5 km northeast of Minaret Burn, near the prominent point on the western shore. There are a couple of sheltered coves here, too, but deep water presents problems for anchoring. Southerly shelter is possible at the east end of Colquhoun’s Beach, and in a small hidden cove on the north side of Mou Waho. There is a jetty on the east side of this island, which is well worth a visit in order to take a walk up to Arethusa Pool – but only in calm conditions (and watch out for the shoal to the east of the island).

Proceeding northwards, the next shelter is in Minaret Bay. The outer bay is a very pleasant anchorage – the best spot seems to be in the lee of the large rock outcrop in the middle of the beach – but is very subject to gusts until the boat is right into shore. It is also possible to find shelter in the inner bay, next to the old jetty; the wind tends to blow along shore, so tying back among the willows must take account of this. Also, the launching ramp is in regular use, so it should not be obstructed.

 Outer Minaret Bay. It looks benign, but wind gusts continually were sweeping over the low ground to the north (left), and coming into shore under sail was quite tricky.

Outer Minaret Bay. It looks benign, but wind gusts continually were sweeping over the low ground to the north (left), and coming into shore under sail was quite tricky.

Further north again, Snag Bay is used by Minaret Bay station for boat access, and again provides reasonable shelter – although it can be very gusty in strong northerlies. Selecting the best spot is simply a matter of watching exactly how the wind is moving, and being prepared to move! It is possible to walk from here up to the Albert Burn (the station manager may give permission to take a direct line across the deer paddocks), a tramp that is well worthwhile, to get into some remote country relatively quickly. There are reports of anchoring in the mouth of Albert Burn, but, again, Silmarillion hasn’t found this feasible.

Up towards the Makororo Delta, there is another spot providing northerly shelter on the western shore across the lake from Boundary Creek, and the point on the eastern shore where Boundary Creek enters the lake offers southerly shelter. The Makororo delta is worth a visit, but has little to offer in terms of anchorages (except temporarily, for angling).

Paul Mosley, Silmarillion

 

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Lake Te Anau

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CRUISING LAKE TE ANAU

Te Anau is the largest lake in the South Island, and this, together with its remote feeling and dramatic scenery, provides a magnificent sailing experience. Te Anau township is the centre of Fiordland National Park, and there is a huge range of outdoor activities to be enjoyed in the vicinity. A cruise on Te Anau therefore can be the centrepiece of a varied family holiday – although the lake itself is so extensive that two week s is barely enough to explore every corner. And, of course, there is nearby Lake Manapouri – which some people think is the “queen” of South Island lakes – and Doubtful Sound, accessible to a trailer yacht via the weekly barge across West Arm and the climb over Wilmot Pass.

 The Middle Fjord of Lake Te Anau, with a nice 10 knot breeze carrying a group of five trailer yachts round Rocky Point (on the right) towards North Fjord.

The Middle Fjord of Lake Te Anau, with a nice 10 knot breeze carrying a group of five trailer yachts round Rocky Point (on the right) towards North Fjord.

SOME BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE LAKE AND ITS WEATHER

Te Anau is New Zealand’s second largest lake, 60 km long, up to 8 km wide, and with a surface area of over 350 square kilometres. It is a glacial lake, scoured out by glacial action to a depth of over 200 m below sea level at its deepest point (417 m, in South Fjord).

The four main arms – South Fjord, Middle Fjord, North Fjord, and the northern lake up to the Clinton and Worsley Arms – have very steep mountain sides along the shoreline, and the lake bed drops away steeply in most places. Consequently, anchorages can be rather widely spaced, although there are enough that a boat is never more than a few miles from a refuge.

Rainfall in the mountains to the west of the lake is as much as 8,000 mm per year, so there can be huge inflows of water to the lake during wet weather. Many inflowing rivers have built deltas, like that of the Eglinton River, or are building river flats out into the deep waters of the lake. Many of Te Anau’s anchorages can be found just offshore of such flats and deltas.

Lake Te Anau lies in the lee of the Fjordland mountains, and there is a strong rain shadow effect. The three main arms reach to within 40-50 km of the coast, and rainfall is heavier, more frequent, and more prolonged than on the main lake. Data for Te Anau are hard to come by, but figures for Manapouri give an idea of what to expect. Annual rainfall at West Arm is around 4,000 mm, and at Manapouri airport is around 1,200 mm – which suggests that when a southwesterly is forecast things are likely to be a lot more pleasant in the marina at Te Anau than anchored at the head of Middle Fjord! Rainfall is pretty much evenly spread throughout the year, with a tendency for winters to be drier.

There are around 1,600 hours of sunshine at Te Anau, and fewer still in the west and north of the lake – maybe a cruise along the Abel Tasman coast (over 2,400 hours) would be a better bet, if sunshine is something the crew demands! January and February are the warmest months – the mean daily air temperature at Te Anau is 15- 16°C in these months, ranging between 8°C and 20-21°C during a mid-summer day, on average. The coldest month is July, with a mean daily temperature at Te Anau of 4°C.

The predominant airflow over Fjordland is from west-northwest. However, winds on the lake are strongly influenced by topography, because moving air tends to go round rather than over obstacles. Hence, generally speaking winds blow either up or down the fjords and northern lake, and only in the main body of the lake, from Te Anau township to the Eglinton delta, are wind conditions controlled by synoptic (medium scale) weather conditions. Even here, wind patterns are influenced by the winds blowing out of the fjords. So, for example, a passage from an anchorage at the Clinton River (north end of the lake) might experience:

  1. light, shifty headwinds from the Clinton River mouth to the junction with Worsley Arm;

  2. a gentle and reasonably steady following breeze down to about Safe Cove;

  3. increasingly strong winds through the wind funnel past Lee Island;

  4. an area of no wind, turning to a headwind, past Camp Bay;

  5. a screaming gale blowing out of North Fjord, turning into:

  6. a moderate following wind past Welcome Point and the Eglinton;

Then the same pattern repeated again past Middle Fjord and South Fjord.

 The wind rose for the summer months at Manapouri airport gives an idea of the proportion of winds from different directions that might be expected on the main body of Lake Te Anau (wind rose kindly provided by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research).

The wind rose for the summer months at Manapouri airport gives an idea of the proportion of winds from different directions that might be expected on the main body of Lake Te Anau (wind rose kindly provided by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research).

As a rule, with synoptic winds from southwest through to north, the wind blows down the fjords, often rather strongly. (The win d can blow up the fjords in some locations, if it is funnelled in from a side valley, and there frequently are areas of shifty or light winds in the lee of points). When picking the best route along a fjord, it helps to think of the win d as a liquid flowing down the valley, just like water running down a gutter, slopping from side to side in response to bends and eddying around behind obstructions. Perhaps the most important caution is to treat with great respect the westerly wind coming out of the fjords into the main lake. It can strengthen remarkably quickly, and out in the middle of the lake is no place to be putting a reef in the main. Silmarillion’s speed record of over 12 knots was achieved leaving Middle Fjord with a following win d that mercifully died away by the time we’d passed Centre Island.

Southerly and southeasterly winds can offer good sailing on the main lake, although waves can get quite large further north. The side fjords tend to be relatively sheltered in southerlies, as the airflow diverges around the Kepler, Murchison and Stewart Mountains (which form transverse barriers to the wind) and follows the sea coast, the wide Waiau valley, and the Southland Plains.

There is a very strong diurnal influence on winds, with calm conditions commonly experienced in the morning, a breeze blowing up from mid to late morning, and rather robust conditions through the afternoon. This is neatly shown by the 9 a.m. wind roses for West Arm (Manapouri), which shows a large proportion of calms. Observations taken in the afternoon would show a rather different picture. Notice, too the preponderance of westerly and northeasterly winds at West Arm and southerly or northerly winds at Borland Burn (in the Waiau valley south of Manapouri), all strongly influenced by the local topography. Like Wakatipu, Lake Te Anau is large enough to create diurnal “lake breezes”, which are equivalent to sea breezes along the coast. The article Cruising Wakatipu in Self Tacker 2005(3) describes these more fully.

 Wind roses taken from 9 a.m. weather observations at West Arm (Manapouri) and Borland Burn (in the Waiau valley south of Manapouri). Note how the winds are affected by the local topography, and the frequency of calms – observations taken in the afternoon would show a different picture. (Data from Climate and weather of Southland (NZ Met. Service Misc. Pub. 115(5), 1984)

Wind roses taken from 9 a.m. weather observations at West Arm (Manapouri) and Borland Burn (in the Waiau valley south of Manapouri). Note how the winds are affected by the local topography, and the frequency of calms – observations taken in the afternoon would show a different picture. (Data from Climate and weather of Southland (NZ Met. Service Misc. Pub. 115(5), 1984)

OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION

A couple of cruising guides have been produced, by Kevin Brown and I. R. Costain, and this one draws on and updates their information. The lake is covered by LINZ 1:50,000 topographic maps D41, D42, D43, C42 and C43 (the latter also covering Manapouri), and Fish and Game Southland have published a useful sketch map of the lake. A 1:250,000 boating map is available from the outdoors shops in Te Anau. It shows 28 anchorages and gives details of direction of win d shelter, ho w many boats they can accommodate, and the type of shoreline. Several of the spots that it shows don’t strike us as very useful or safe anchorages for Silmarillion, and it omits a number of others that we did use.

BOAT RAMPS AND OTHER FACILITIES

There are three boat ramps suitable for launching and recovering a Noelex 25. The one at Te Anau Downs is favoured by crews who like the northern half of the lake. It is an excellent spot, with good parking, a toilet, and goo d anchorage in Boat Harbour suitable for late arrivals. The ramp faces west, but the westerly wind has lost much of its strength by the time it reaches Te Anau Downs, so launching and recovery are not usually a problem. The nearby backpackers sells very minimal provisions – don’t rely on their having what you’ve forgotten, and they don’t do meals for casual visitors.

 Te Anau Downs. The jetty is used by the large launch that goes up to Glade House, but tie-ing up is fine on the shore- side of the pontoons. Although the jetty and ramp seem to be very exposed to the west, the inlet is generally quite protected.

Te Anau Downs. The jetty is used by the large launch that goes up to Glade House, but tie-ing up is fine on the shore- side of the pontoons. Although the jetty and ramp seem to be very exposed to the west, the inlet is generally quite protected.

There are two good ramps at Te Anau, the public ramp at the north end of the shore, and the ramp in the Marina. (There is also a narrow ramp at the southern end, near the DoC visitor centre and yacht club, but it is rather exposed to wind and waves, and not generally used by trailer yachts). The public ramp is fine, but very busy with power boats and with rather limited space for rigging and parking. The ramp in the marina is excellent, with jetties to assist in launching and recovery, an extensive rigging and parking area, and better security. A key for the gate to the marina can be obtained (2007) from the Caltex station on the way into town; there is a daily launching fee and arrangements for leaving a vehicle/trailer for several days are negotiable. Silmarillion’s crew has a strong preference for the marina ramp.

Te Anau has all the services that you’re likely to need (hardware store, two supermarkets, three garages, angling/outdoor equipment shops, Te Anau Marine, lots of restaurants for a treat, etc.). There is a commercial secure parking area, in case you want to leave the boat and trailer for a few days and go off to Milford or wherever. An d, of course, there is the Department of Conservation visitor centre at the south end of the lake shore, for information about the area, weather forecasts, maps, etc. (phone 03-249-7924)

Water everywhere in the lake is of high quality and can be used for cooking and drinking with no concerns. Didymo has become established, unfortunately, in the Eglinton River, and no doubt is spreading throughout the lake, as boats carry it around.

THINGS TO DO
Well, obviously a Noelex crew is going to Te Anau for some sailing! To explore the main lake from the Waiau River outlet up to the Clinton River, and the three main arms, takes a good two week s. The entire lake is worth visiting. Some crews seem to regard the South Arm as less interesting, but Silmarillion’s begs to differ – in fact, we think the scenery up the South Arm is perhaps the finest anywhere on the lake, and there are many beaches along both shores that are well worth a visit. We’ll consider the details later.

The Department of Conservation visitor centre is the obvious place to go for information on other things to do. While you’re there, walk along the shore to the yacht club, and check the notice board for up-coming events, and the contact details for club officials. Taking part in one of the weekend events could be a highlight of the cruise!

If you’re keen on walking, the Kepler Track from the control gates up to Mt Luxmore is do-able in a day, especially if you anchor in Brod Bay, thereby cutting out the section around the lake shore (which, however, is itself well worth the walk!) At the other end of the lake, it is possible to walk for half a day up the Milford Track from the anchorage at the Clinton River mouth. This gets you up past the Clinton River Forks, and into the part of the valley where avalanches have cleared openings, an d fine views, in the forest.

 

 Gorge Falls. The fall is reached via a good track from a derelict jetty on the delta of Gorge Creek, in the South Fjord. The track used to lead all the way through to Bradshaw Sound, and can still be followed, with some bush- bashing

Gorge Falls. The fall is reached via a good track from a derelict jetty on the delta of Gorge Creek, in the South Fjord. The track used to lead all the way through to Bradshaw Sound, and can still be followed, with some bush- bashing

The walk from Northwest Arm across to Lake Hankinson is worthwhile. So is the walk from the remnants of an old jetty at Gorge Burn (at the end of the South Fjord) up to the magnificent Gorge Falls – and onwards along an old tourist trail to a series of tarns, but this involves a bit of bush-bashing, as the trail hasn’t been maintained for years.

There are some nice walks to tarns and beaches from a jetty on the south shore of South Fjord, near Dome Island, a lovely walk to a tarn from just near the Te Anau Downs ramp, and of course walks along the shore around Te Anau township.

Te Anau and the inflowing rivers offer good angling – the further away from Te Anau the better. The best fishing is where rivers and streams flow into the lake, bringing food an d creating conditions in which macro-invertebrates and small fish flourish, providing food for trout. Several rivers, like the Doon River and Worsley Stream, can be entered by a Noelex, or by a dinghy. Experienced anglers regard them as a prime place for trout, with the fish lurking under the river banks and logs in the channel. Always be careful when in rivers or offshore from river deltas and beaches, because there are a lot of logs, the water may be murky with peat, and logs don’t show up on the depth sounder until it’s too late.

Many beaches around the lake are suitable for lunch stops, swimming, barbecues, etc. Those on the north and south shores of South Fjord are deservedly popular (but hardly crowded) – try Garden Point, Moonlight Beach, Garnet Bay, or the beaches on the south shore opposite Moa Pt. Several of the marked anchorages have nice beaches, too, but the sandflies can be a discouragement. The eastern shoreline of the lake has drier and sunnier weather, afternoon sun, and perhaps fewer sandflies (?) – the beaches along here may be worth a look for an afternoon stop, before heading for an anchorage in Middle Fjord, say.

ANCHORAGES

The main features of the lake are shown on the key map, with more detail on the six larger scale maps that follow. Pay particular attention to the hazards marked on the map; out on the water, most are marked by poles, but the skipper is responsible for the safety of his/her boat, so keep a good lookout, especially around island shores and off points!

We haven’t provided the level of detail for anchorages that is found in a coastal cruising guide because, somehow, identifying the right spot to anchor in a bay in a lake seems to be easier than in a tidal bay, and is very dependent on the direction and strength of win d on the day. In most places we’ve marked, it’s possible to tie the stern back into the shore, but in some spots swinging on anchor is preferable, because the win d is shifty or there is dense or overhanging vegetation along the shoreline.

There are several places, particularly beaches where side streams have built deltas, that are not marked as anchorages but would be usable in settled weather. In the end, the crew of a cruising boat must make its own decisions on the suitability of a possible anchorage, taking account of the likely weather conditions over the next few hours. Often, the wind on Te Anau drops during the night – but it can blow up, or shift around to exactly the opposite direction, so don’t trust anybody, including this guide!

LAST WORDS

Lake Te Anau is a big lake, and the weather can turn rugged rather quickly. So, Te Anau warrants the caution that a prudent skipper pays to coastal waters. Water temperatures during summer generally are around 16oC – a “man overboard” will get pretty cold if not picked up smartly, and in strong winds 1 to 2 m waves are quite possible, making a rescue potentially quite tricky.

It’s a good idea to advise the DoC visitor centre of your intentions, but sign back in when you return. There are quite a few power boats around in the southern part of the main lake and South Fjord, but generally only on nice days in the holiday period. There are a lot fewer folk around further north; in fact, you can have the lake to yourself for days on end, apart from the launch to the Clinton River jetty. Once away from Te Anau township, there are no supplies, so take everything you need for the intended trip – including 30 litres of fuel, if you’re inten ding exploring the whole lake.

As for sandflies, we recommend a mosquito net for the cockpit, and nets to cover the hatches into the cabin – sandflies can push through a standard mosquito net, so you’ll need to make your own, from fine curtain net. Sandflies seem to be unfazed by mosquito coils. Swinging at anchor is definitely better for avoiding the little beasts, if there’s an off-shore breeze, and the islands at the entrance to Middle Fjord are delightfully sandflyfree! But don’t let us put you off the place – Te Anau is a magnificent lake for a cruise!

Paul Mosley, Silmarillion

First published 2007

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