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22 Te Anau
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I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.
I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!
Mavora Lakes Park is a varied landscape of open tussock, grassland, wetland, indigenous beech forest, shrublands, mountain rivers and lakes. Most of the vegetation is still native, well adapted to the soil and climatic conditions.
From SH 94, 30 km east of Te Anau, turn into Mavora Lakes Road (unsealed). This bears left after 14 km at the junction with Centre Hill Road, leading 14 km to the near Mossburn. It’s a further 18 km to the lakes turnoff.
After 1.6 km, a small parking bay (by toilets) on the left, marks the entry to the track.
A camping area is situated at the foot of the northern lake, 9 km from the turnoff. It’s a self-registration site with water, toilets, picnic benches and barbecues. The road then turns to a 4WD track.
Cross the bouncy wire swingbridge over the outlet of the southern lake and take in the views up the lake. Note also the presence of lagarosiphon and didymo in the waterway. A small beach at the outlet is a good spot to take in the forested valley walls, tussock tops and jagged exposed outcrops near the summits of the mountains. You feel close to the Central Otago landscapes here.
The gently undulating track weaves a course parallel to the western edge of the lake, through a silver, red and mountain beech forest. Occasional branch tips hover above the lake’s edge and frame views to the mountains on the far side. Energetic high pitched cheeps of riflemen are common near the initial stages of the track.
There are a few muddy patches on the way to a small grassy clearing (45 minutes), 15 minutes before the head of the lake. A tussock studded semi-wetland is home to abundant waterfowl, who inhabit the waters. These include Canada geese, paradise duck, shags and black swans.
A grass strip threads a course back into the forest, following the Mararoa River between the two lakes. Before crossing the wooden swingbridge at the outlet of the northern lake, continue to the shingle beach which looks straight up the lake to the Livingstone Mountains.
Either return via the same track or along the road.
The Mavora region lies between the drier Wakatipu region and the forested and wetter Fiordland region. The lakes are impounded by moraines and the U-shaped valley is flattened at it’s base by outwash terraces. North Mavora Lake stretches 11 km and is 100 metres deep, while the South Lake is 2.25 km long and only 30 metres deep. Both are lacking on organic matter.
The valley was glacially excavated, although the retreating glaciers discarded large fans of debris which infilled the valley floor to provide the gentle contours seen today. The ground and lateral moraines are dotted with kettle holes, formed by subsiding gravels in the depositional debris.
A motley assortment of rock types surrounds the valley including ultramafic rocks, sandstones and metamorphosed greywacke. To the west the Livingstone Mountains form a steep escarpment from the Livingstone Fault.
As the park is situated to the east of the Fiordland Mountains, the rainfall experienced is significantly less, although still wetter than the adjacent dry lands of Otago. The harsh climate is characterised by a short but hot summer and cold winters with frequent frosts.
Large wetland areas block both ends of the lakes and these are the favoured feeding sites for waterfowl including the marsh crake. In the forest, most notable birds include the South Island kaka, South Island robin and yellow-crowned parakeet.
Maori use of the valley stretches way back, almost 800 years. In search of pounamu or greenstone, the valley was used as an entry route into the upper Wakatipu region from sources on the coast around Milford Sound. Manawapopore (Lower Mavora Lake) is in the upper reaches of Southland’s largest catchment basin and formed part of the Greenstone Trail. Eel weirs on the lake’s margins were signs of habitation. The flat stones were built in a loop with holes at both ends and the middle. The beech forest was probably modified by the wild fires set by early Maori occupants. The forest cover was diminished and replaced with tussock.
The name ‘Mavora’ is probably derived from the Australian district of Victoria, a title imported around 1859.
Extensive burning, rabbit release and deer have had a disastrous effect on some areas of the park, while in the water didymo (rock snot) and lagarospihon are both present.
South Island ▷ Fiordland ▷ Te Anau
A nice day walk along the South Mavora Lake, we found nobody but ducks, rabbits and a beautiful nature. Forest, grassland, mountains. There is a campsite for those who like peaceful places, they shot some of the Lord of the Rings scenes here!
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍