"A Hidden Gem not too far from the Beaten Path" Lake Ohau by Kakapo2
Lake Ohau Travel Guide: 17 reviews and 33 photos
Somehow Lake Ohau is not off the beaten path - but somehow it is.
It is the third big lake along SH8 in Canterbury's High Country, after Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. But as the State Highway does not lead directly past it most tourists do not care too much to have a look and check if it is as spectacular as the other two big lakes. And of course, nearly every traveller has a tight schedule, so there is just not enough time to visit every beautiful place.
From the turn-off - 13 kilometres south of Twizel - you have to travel nearly ten kilometres into the valley until you see Lake Ohau. Already this trip is spectacular, with fantastic mountain ranges on both sides of the valley - Ben Ohau Range on the right, Barrier Range on the left, and Neumann Range in the middle, between two rivers at the end of the lake. In the distance you can spot Mount Cook peak over those ranges. And if you travel on a cold morning as we did you drive through a frosty wonderland, the tussock grass covered in glazed frost.
Depending on the position of the sun Lake Ohau can shimmer turquoise blue although the water does not contain glacier silt as Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki do, at other times it is dark blue, or just silvery against the sun.
But the first spectacular thing that you might see are the magic mirror-like reflections on Lake Middleton which is separated from Lake Ohau by the road and a small stretch of land. When there is no wind the reflections are just incredible, the best I have ever photographed. You get the identical picture of nature on the water surface.
After Lake Middleton you will pass (or have a look at) Lake Ohau Village which is the only settlement along the lake. Actually there are just privately owned houses with fantastic views, some even with views over both lakes. A little further on you have accommodation: a lodge and a campground. The motels at Lake Ohau Station have obviously closed down after the sale of the station. There should also be a campground at Lake Middleton.
After the Lake Ohau Lodge - situated at the access road to a skifield - you travel on a gravel road for many more kilometres. The area is known as the Ruantaniwha Recreation Park - you get maps at the DOC Visitor Centres.
Next you pass the Round Bush Campsite, located right on the shore. The trip leads through avanlanche zones and fords, and over wooden bridges. At Lake Ohau Station at the end of the lake are still the Weatherall Motels and the sign but Mr. Weatherall has sold the station and noted that the new owners do not operate them (yet).
A left turn leads to Temple Valley where you have a nice picnic area with toilet and a primitive shelter. It is also the start for several walks which take from 40 minutes to 6 or 7 hours, and even longer walks. But there is no map, so you have to get your information in advance.
I think none of those walks is a must, the walks around Mount Cook Village are much more spectacular. They would just be a nice change for those who have already done all the other walks.
- Pros:Very quiet and peaceful, off the beaten path
- Cons:Not as spectacular as Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki
- In a nutshell:Stunning scenery but a lot less tourists than at other lakes
If you want to check the itineray before you start your walk get a map of the area at a DOC Visitor Centre. When we... more travel advice
As said in my introduction, already the trip to Lake Ohau is wonderful, especially on a late autumn or even a winter... more travel advice
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