Epic Scenery For Breakfast – Lake Sylvan

“On a Mish” #302 Epic Scenery for Breakfast. Lake Sylvan. Mt Aspiring National Park. 22.9.2021. Once driverless cars reach New Zealand everyone on board will be able to appreciate the incredible natural beauty seen on some of our premier roads. Along with the Milford Road and the Aoraki / Mt Cook Highway, the road to Glenorchy and beyond never disappoints, and has been the beginning of many epic outings in the mountainous terrain found north of Lake Wakatipu

The road is both the start and finish of an adventure up the Greenstone Valley and onto the Routeburn Track (The Grand Traverse), and now many years on from my days as a guide I found myself being lured back time and time again. During the worst days of my hip injury I was helped along by my long time mish buddy Mark, and with his help I was able to at least look at the edge of the wild, which definitely aided my mental health at the time and gave me the glimmer of hope I needed to eventually get back on the wilderness horse. Both Mark and I are into the rich history of the Routeburn Track and the properties that surround it. This led to the decision to get up earlier than early-ish and take the road to Glenorchy and then on to the road to the Routeburn Track. Our goal was to get to Lake Sylvan, and on the journey Mark would give me a rundown of the area’s history. His time working there was going to be to my benefit. With summer on the horizon the days were beginning to get longer, and this meant that it was light by the time we left Queenstown.

Lake Sylvan

Along the way we stopped in at the new Bennetts Bluff walkway and viewpoint. A massive amount of work has gone into the new lookout, and it is a big change from the dodgy roadside spot, which used to get overcrowded. A cloudless day meant the view from the lookout was priceless, and we both hoped that someday we would have streams of tourists wandering up the track to take in the epic view. From Bennetts Bluff we headed north around the top of Lake Wakatipu to the bridge over Te Awa o Whakatipu / Dart River, another location with a famous view easily seen from the road. After a couple of quick photos of Lord of the Rings‘ Isengard, we headed to the Lake Sylvan Campsite / Car Park. The interesting modifications made to the bridge across the Route Burn are the reminders of the massive storm of February 2020. This area was hit hard and many bridges suffered damage. After crossing the bridge and admiring the very intelligent modifications, we continued along the very well formed trail. A lot of work has gone into the track, which now could be walked by anyone with minimal fitness and experience. The centerpiece of the track is Lake Sylvan, a large lake hidden from the world by a thick covering of beech forest. Like many walks lately, we were the only ones around and had the entire place to ourselves. As we made our way back to the car Mark showed me some of the old trails and gave me a rundown of the area’s history. We had started our day the right way with a heavy helping of scenery for breakfast, and next it was time to head back along the road to the new Avalanche Creek Track. This would be an overindulging lunch of steep uphill travel…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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