Almost too Beautiful (Part One) – Lake Marian Camp

“On a Mish” #291 Almost too Beautiful (Part One). Lake Marian. Fiordland National Park. 7.7.2021. If beauty has limits then Lake Marian and the mountains that surround it are really pushing it! Lake Marian is an absolute must do if you are on the Milford Road and can spare 3 – 4 hours. For a long time the track to the lake was only used by those who have searched the map for hiking opportunities. Then, as if the tap went from off to full blast, someone put the word out to the tourist world and the track became very popular (pre-Covid)…

I am not surprised that more and more people are coming to this stunning location, it has it all. Incredible snow capped peaks, and of course the centrepiece of the mesmerising turquoise colours of Lake Marian. It is a place where even the worst photographer will capture an epic masterpiece. A recovery / testing hike took me up to the lake in April, and I knew I would be back for more sooner rather than later. The place is almost too bloody beautiful!

I had thought about lugging my camping gear up into the basin ever since my first visit back in 2014, and with my body slowly recovering I knew it would only be a matter of time. My mish up the Gulliver River showed me it was possible for me to hike with a full camping pack for at least a couple of hours (with manageable pain to my hip), so the mish was on the radar.

As much as I love the Darran Mountains, due to the weather I can’t visit the area every time I have time off work. I don’t mind putting up with a little bit of rain on a hike, but Fiordland doesn’t do ‘a little bit of rain’ very well. Along with the rain, winter has its own wild card in the form of snow.

Marian Creek Rumbling Past the Lake Marian Walkway

The 2021 winter started all over the place. Late May brought snow to low levels, then heavy rains and warmer temperatures. July took us back to winter, and snow coated the peaks several times and even got down to town level (Te Anau) a couple of times.

I had a rare three days in a row without work, and no matter what happened there was going to be a mission within those three days. I immediately looked at the forecast for Lake Marian and it said ‘rain clearing and then returning as snow overnight. Having confidence in my tent’s’ sheltering abilities I was keen to enjoy the temporary fine weather and then shelter from the snow during the night.

With all the stars aligning I threw my gear into my car and headed for the Milford Road. I am still getting used to how quiet the road is these days without international tourists. Driving past places like Mirror Lakes and the Eglington Valley Viewpoint without cars still boggles my mind, as they are places that used to be jam packed with tourists enjoying the incredible sights.

I got to the Lake Marian car park, which was extended to handle the traffic before Covid, and on this day there were only two other cars. At least some other people were enjoying the majestic beauty of the Darran Mountains. I sorted my gear then hauled my pack onto my back. Everything was feeling good and I was excited about what I was about to do. My mind was more than ready for a mish and now it was time to see if the body was as well. Left foot, right foot, repeat. Mission is on, now it is time to flood my eyes with some of the best views on the planet…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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