Around The Lake – Lake Clearwater Circuit

“On a Mish” #295 Around the Lake. Lake Clearwater. Hakatere Conservation Park. 1.9.2015. I am very lucky that I had the opportunity to work out what makes me really happy. Finding the thing that you love can mean an escape from the clutter of life for the time you are partaking in your favourite activity. In case it isn’t obvious, hiking and climbing takes me to my happy place. During a good mission you are focused on the task at hand, and only worrying about getting from A to B can relieve the weight of a troubled mind…

Even though it is just a temporary fix, sometimes only a short amount of time in the hills is all you need to reset the hard drive that is a busy brain. Hiking is the greatest sport because all you need are boots and legs willing to put those boots to use. These days I am very lucky to have Fiordland National Park right on my back doorstep, and in less than an hour’s drive on the Milford Road I am in a place so perfect you would swear it is a green screen projection in a movie. Before buying a house in Te Anau my escape spot was always Lake Clearwater Village. Having access to a very cosy crib in the village has led to many missions in the mountains that surround the area. When I head there I usually have a mountain in mind to climb, but sometimes the weather keeps me at lower altitudes. After years of visiting the village each winter, I realised I had never walked the track around the lake. It seems the most obvious walk to do in a village named after the lake, but due to other adventures I had never had the chance. With rain, hail and snow in the forecast I knew climbing was going to be out of the equation, so now was the time to hike around Lake Clearwater.

Early-ish I began the mish, and the weather was blizzard-like to begin with. A chilly start gets you moving, and as I warmed up I made my way around the eastern edge of the lake. Visibility came and went again, as the clouds rolled through the area. And every now and then it would begin to snow. The snow was wet, cold and slushy, not the light fluffy powder we all picture when thinking about snow. I pushed on through the storm and climbed away from the lake for a while as the track avoided a boggy area. The slight elevation change meant I was in snow to the ankles, and stronger winds than down by the lake. The track dropped back down to the lake and I got views for a few seconds as the clouds briefly parted. A boardwalk section took me over the western bog at the top of Lake Clearwater, and from here it was easy walking back around the lake’s edge to the village. Taking a couple of hours to circle the lake makes the hike the perfect day mission for anyone visiting the village, and when the mountains are a no-go zone I highly recommend a wander around the lake with very clear water!

Snow Covered Boardwalk at the Top End of Lake Clearwater

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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