19 November 2017

Lake Heron - A Barren Backcountry Lake

Lake Heron is the largest of the Hakatere/Ashburton Lakes about an hours drive from Methven. It's a wildlife sanctuary known for prolific birdlife. 

I left around midday hoping the weather would be as calm at the lake as it was in Methven. I drove inland to Mt Somers township and then continued on for a further 30 kilometres, which took me to Hakatere corner. At Hakatere corner, the turn off to Lake Heron is on the right (if you continue straight ahead it takes you to Lake Clearwater and Mt Sunday).
The buildings at Hakatere corner include one of mid-Canterbury's oldest dwellings, the 'Stone Cottage' which was made in1862. 

There’s 16 kilometres of well maintained gravel road to travel – it’s easy to spot oncoming traffic as clouds of dust can be seen kilometres away.

Beside the Hakatere Heron Road are 'The Maori Lakes', which are part of the Ashburton Lakes. They're quite shallow and most of the shoreline is swampy and hidden by reeds. The Maori Lakes were named after the indigenous people who used to fish there while traveling east to west on the greenstone trail.
These lakes are popular for bird watching and/or fishing.

The road continues on, passing paddocks of various colours and tussock grassland.

Lake Heron is a fresh water lake popular for fishing and is an important habitat for the endangered southern crested grebe and other bird life.

A lakeside campground offers sites from September until May. There were a number of weathered caravans with awnings parked there. It looked as though they’d been there for a few seasons.

Near the campground were trees overhanging into the water providing ideal cover for trout. Lake Heron has brown trout, rainbow trout and quinnat salmon (also known as chinook, king or spring salmon). Also there's landlocked quinnat salmon in the lake.

The lake was named by an early pioneer (Thomas Potts) after white heron/kotuku that he had found around the shores of the lake. Unfortunately only the odd heron now visits the lake.
Shaped like the letter ‘Y’ Lake Heron sits between the Taylor Range and Wild Man’s Brother Range. Mellish Stream and Swin River flow into Lake Heron. The lake is drained by Lake Stream which then flows into the Rakaia River.

 It's a popular spot for mountain bikers, photographers, trampers and walkers.

There are several walks around the area, ranging in lengths. One of the walks is 'Lake Hill' track - it's an easy 45 minute walk up Lake Hill and the views of the lake and surrounding mountains are amazing. The distance around the shoreline is 19kms.

There's a short walk to a ‘Kettle Hole’. It was formed when huge blocks of ice broke off from the retreating glacier leaving a depression that fills with water.

The flowering plants that live in kettle holes are mostly small, rare and have special ways of using the changing water levels to their advantage.

The landscape is harsh, barren and stunning. Tussock smothers some areas, while others are covered in small dandelion type flowers.

Can you spot the hare crouching in the paddock?

Close up 
And he's off...

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