I’m a local who is proud to call Te Anau my home but now that I think about it I don’t really know a whole lot about the beautiful Lake right across the road..
It’s rich history and interesting facts may surprise you whether you are a local wanting to know more or planning a trip from afar.
Let’s go back to the beginning some 20,000 years ago when Fiordland’s glaciers moved east forming long ridges and eventually melting to create lakes, one of these being Lake Te Anau. Many believe it is named after a Maori chieftainess or it could possibly have been shortened from Te Ana-au which means “Cave of the swirling water” (A reference to the caves on the West side of the lake).
Lake Te Anau is the biggest lake by surface area in the South Island and second biggest in New Zealand only to Lake Taupo. Looking down the lake from Te Anau township can be very misleading as it twists and turns its way north covering about 65km in length with 3 long arms contributing to its enormous size.
On the lakes East side, civilization has made its mark with the township of Te Anau which really started to develop after the opening of the homer tunnel in 1953. By comparison the west side is almost untouched with the exception of the Kepler track, the Glow worm caves and at the northern point you will find the start of the Milford track. Walking through the beautiful beech forest with low hanging tree ferns almost feels prehistoric and will have you leaving the big city life behind. The Kepler track welcomes around 8000 trampers each year so it is extremely important everyone is aware of the impact they have on the environment and should make every effort to make sure that impact is as small as possible so that future hikers can enjoy mother nature just as they have.
There is a wealth of wildlife surrounding Lake Te Anau. Some birds include the Tui, Wood Pigeons, Takahe and at higher altitude the cheeky Kea.
Animals such as deer, possums and hares live in abundance in Fiordland National park. If you’re a keen fisherman, the lake is home to trout and salmon and is a popular fishing spot for anyone wanting to trawl its depths.
Last time I swam in the lake it was a hot day. I had been exercising and I was desperate to cool down. Well, cool down I did! Mountain lakes don’t get much warmer during summer, but they do say, swimming in cold water is good for your health, so I’ll claim that. There is a popular swimming spot down by the boat marina that has a platform to swim out to as well as a few spots around the lake at Doc Bay and Brod Bay.
So, there we have it. A small insight on the beautiful place I call home and a lake I intend to help maintain for future generations. For anyone heading this way, Welcome. I’m sure you will fall in love with our little piece of paradise. It’s hard not to!
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