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On-Walkabout On: The Road to Te Anau

After spending a few day at New Zealand’s South Island tourist Mecca of Queenstown my wife and I decided to hit the road once again and head for our next destination on our planned itinerary which is the gateway to the legendary Milford Sound, the small village of Te Anau.  To get to Te Anau from Queenstown we had to drive South around Lake Wakatipu and then West across the Eyre Mountains, before going a short distance North to Te Anau:

road to te anau map

The mountains along the road going South from Queenstown are initially very steep and snow capped:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

In the below picture you can see part of Queenstown on the opposite bank of the lake:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

However, once we began to reach the Southern portion of Lake Wakatipu, the mountains were significantly less rugged with little evidence of snow on them:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

This is how the view down Lake Wakatipu looks from its South end near the city of Kingston looking back up the lake towards Queenstown:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

This Google Earth image gives further perspective on how long this lake is and its changing topography:

queenstown satellite image

Lake Wakatipu is a glacier carved lake that is 80 kilometers long which is the longest in New Zealand and has a maximum depth of 230 meters which makes it New Zealand’s third largest lake by water mass.  If anyone is wondering the largest lake in New Zealand my wife and I had already visited earlier in our tour, which is Lake Taupo back on New Zealand’s North Island. The second largest lake is the one we were heading for now, Lake Te Anau.

Past Lake Wakatipu the highway begins to head Westward and cross the Eyre Mountains which are significantly smaller and less rugged then mountains further west:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

This area is classic New Zealand farm country with plenty of crops being grown and sheep grazing in lush green fields:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

Once we traversed over the Eyre Mountains and were nearing Te Anau, the terrain suddenly turned into a treeless sage brush desert:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

This desert actually lasted until we reached the outskirts of Te Anau where the mountains became more rugged and lush green grass once again carpeted the ground:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

And of course the lush green grass of this area supported a large number of cattle that could be seen grazing in the fields:

 

Just before sunset we arrived in the city of Te Anau.  Te Anau is much smaller then Queenstown with less then 2,000 people living in the city compared to the over 10,000 people who live in Queenstown.  Additionally there are far less tourists in Te Anau compared to Queenstown which for us anyway made the city seem more laid back and not as hectic.

My wife and I checked into a local caravan park that was across the street from Te Anau’s beutiful lake that it shared its name with:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

Lake Te Anau is not completely surrounded by mountains but the ones that do border the lake are quite scenic:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

Google Earth doesn’t have high quality imagery yet of the Te Anau area but even in this low imagery picture you can see how half the lake is bordered with mountains while the other half borders the city and its surrounding grasslands:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

My wife and I stayed on the shore of the lake to watch the sun slowly set behind the mountains:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

Quite a spectacular sight as the sun finally lowered behind the mountains:

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

Picture From Drive to Te Anau, New Zealand

The sunset was quite a sight and a good way to begin what would be our last few days holidaying in beautiful New Zealand.

Next Posting: Around Lake Te Anau

Prior Posting: Video of Queenstown

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