February 9 Lake Walk (Day 135)

A beautiful day lay ahead of us so we decided to go for a walk, retracing some of Robert’s walk yesterday. We drove the mile through town to the lakefront and Robert dropped me off at the Bird Sanctuary while he started on the lakefront walk. The star of the Bird Sanctuary is the Takahe, a large chicken sized flightless bird that was thought extinct until 1948 when a small population was found high in the Murchison Mountains across Lake Te Anau! They have been very well protected since and are being raised in captivity at several sites around NZ to be released back to the wild. Check web post Dec. 19, 2023 for a good picture of the Takahe we saw at Zealandia! I couldn’t get a good picture, so here’s one from the reader board.

They have several pairs of breeding birds that are kept away from the public.

I finished my tour of the bird sanctuary and started on the lakefront trail to catch Robert at our meeting point. The first half of the trail is on the open, sunny side of the lake, along a golf course. I was able to get a good picture of the NZ Cabbage Tree which we’ve seen throughout the islands. It looks almost like a sturdy yucca, but is no relation.

The cabbage tree was an important resource for the Maori and European settlers alike, being used for food, fibre and medicine!

At the dam that controls the outflow of Lake Te Anau into the Waiau river the landscape changes to the beech forest with thick fern undergrowth at the base of the Fiordland mountain ranges. There is another trail, the Lake2Lake Trail, along the Waiau river which connects Lake Te Anau with Lake Manapouri, no time for that trail today though.

It was nice and cool under the trees, with streams and creeks flowing down out of the mountains into the crystal clear pebbly-bottomed lake.

The trail we were on is the Kepler Trail that we hiked part of just 6 days ago! We met at a picnic area and retraced our hike back to the Bird Sanctuary for a full 7 miles today!

Along the way we enjoyed this view and listened to the melodious song of the Tui bird perched on the top of the dead tree. If you look close enough you might see the white ‘cotton-ball’ feathers on his throat!

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