Lake Emma Circuit

“A Mish a Day” #137 Lake Emma. Hakatere Conservation Area. 19.9.2017. There are twelve tranquil lakes in Hakatere Conservation Area, and along with the upper Rangitata River, makes up the very visually appealing O Tū Wharekai Wetland Area. The lakes in the area range in size from the large water bodies Lake Heron and Lake Clearwater, which is the home to some of the few residents in the Conservation Area. There are also the small and very scenic Maori Lakes, which has some of the best bird life in the area. A lake that often gets forgotten about is Lake Emma, just east of Lake Clearwater Village.

A small dirt road off the Hakatere Potts Road leads to a car park, and the start of the track at the northern end of the lake. I followed the track that keeps close to the edge of the lake, and due to the resent heavy rain in the area the side streams were up and lapping against the small bridges that cross over them. I rounded the bottom of the lake and found a small historic Musterers’ Hut, a sign of the early European pastoral quests into the area for new sheep grazing country. Even before getting to the hut I could smell the dead possum in the hut alcove, and on inspecting the inside of the hut I came to the conclusion it would need to be an emergency for me to spend a night in that hut! It’s a real shame to see the cool old hut in such a terrible state, as the location and ease of access would have made it an excellent hut for people looking for a easy overnight hike. I left the hut and continued to circle the lake on the track, and to make the trip a loop the normal track heads west to Lake Camp, and then the road is back tracked back to the car park.

I’m definitely not someone who likes doing things the ‘normal way’ and I didn’t want to walk the road section of the track. So to make things interesting I attempted to cross over the wetlands to the north west of the lake. It was only one kilometre or so across to the car park, but this was made tediously slow by the conditions of the boggy wetlands after the heavy rain. There was no dry ground to be found, and the ground above the muddy water was extremely unstable and would often collapse into the bog with a splash as I stood on it. After about 45 minutes of grueling bog bashing, I finally got onto the slightly elevated dry ground near the car park, and sloshed my way back to my car, wearing boots and pants that were now more bog than material!

Lake Emma and the historic hut

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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