13 December – To Lake Hawea


Hah-wea  (all Maori words have the emphasis on the first syllable).

It was quite a wrench to leave Lake Tekapo. Great house, well situated, with plenty of social facilities nearby.  There are plenty of places that we haven’t explored, but it’s time to go. You should always leave the table before you’re full, they say.


Our first call is Lake Pukaki Visitor Centre, where there’s a wonderful view of Aoraki Mount Cook again.  In the café-shop is a photograph of the mountain reflected in the still lake – not common, but just occasionally in winter. We’ll take what we see today, in the meantime. We buy coffee and sit on the rocks by the lake – awestruck again!


The Australian woman serving in the salmon store cum coffee shop corrects our pronunciation of Hawea. She lives in Wanaka, so she ought to know. She says we have a lovely drive ahead, over Lindis Pass, over 900m high, and to look out for the flowers.


Onward, and we decide we should have a look at the town of Twizel (Twy-zel). This was built to house construction workers for the hydro scheme, but people wanted to stay, and it seems like a proper town, with sports hall and other facilities, as well as a selection of shops. If we can’t live in Lake Tekapo next life, this looks ok.


We head off over the pass, and there are indeed lots of small flowers on the way down, but no settlements until we pass through Tarras, though you have to keep your eyes open – we see just a couple of houses and a cafe. Nowhere inviting for us to sit and lunch. Before we know it we’ve reached Hawea Flat and then Lake Hawea itself. There’s a very decent cafe and general store, where we pick up a local info sheet and directions to the bach we’ve booked here. Out along a couple of miles of unsealed road to Johns Creek, a settlement of holiday homes right on the lake shore.


I walk along to the nearby picnic and swimming spot. The beach is stony, with masses of flat pebbles. I remove my shoes and dip my feet in – a little too cold to tempt me. But the view across the lake to mountain ranges is spectacular, again.