North Lake Te Anau – Two Boys in a Boat (Part One)

“On a Mish” #18 Two Boys in a Boat (Part One). Northern Lake Te Anau. Fiordland National Park. 6.10.2018. Sometimes it is a bit of a mission just finding someone else to go on a mish with! A flip side to working in tourism is the fact that your weekend can fall on any day. This sometimes means days off during the week instead of the weekend, and it usually means my mates with normal 9-5 jobs will be at work. However, a huge upside to working in tourism is the like-minded workmates you meet. After nearly 15 years I have learnt to deal with the lack of a mission buddy, but also had some outstanding outings with people I have met through work…

The weather looked good for a couple of days during my time off, and the need for a mish was reaching boiling point. While at work early in the 2018-2019 season, Dylan (a former workmate on the Fiordland Navigator and participant in many a mission over time) and I discussed the possibility of borrowing a boat and going for a look around the north end of Lake Te Anau. Luckily for us our skipper Dave had a little dinghy we could borrow. From there the adventure was on!

We loaded our gear and then put the boat in the water at the boat ramp at Te Anau Downs. The weather was fine and the lake was calm at the ramp and we both knew that we were definitely in for an epic on Lake Te Anau.

The first part of our leisure cruise took us up the lake to the North Fiord for a look at Entrance Island and down the narrow corridor of mountains at the northernmost arm of the lake.

After a brief encounter with the arm we then headed north towards our next goal at the top of the lake. Before we went too far we stopped for a bite to eat, and after a snack on the calm water we were getting ourselves ready to set sail again when the motor decided it wasn’t going to work. Far from a state of panic, we just sat in the dingy and took in the scenery for a while. Some might stress at this predicament, but we were well fed and warm and had nothing to complain about (apart from the boat’s motor not working!). After about ten minutes casually chilling, the motor suddenly roared back into life with no real explanation for why it stopped in the first place, and we were once again heading north towards the top of the lake.

We took a left hand turn where the lake splits into its two most northern arms then a further left hand turn took us into the Worsley Arm. This seldom seen part of the lake has some of the most magnificent mountains. Lining each side of the deep valley is peak after peak, all stunning in their own way.

As it was still spring, snow still clung to the upper aspects of the tallest mountains in the area, and this made the location look even more grand.

We took the dinghy up the crystal clear water of the Worsley River until it became too shallow. We then cut the engine and drifted back to the lake with the river’s flow, listening to the birds chirping as we glided over the water. After getting back on the lake we pulled the boat ashore at the Worsley Arm Beach. With not a single cloud in the sky we considered ourselves very lucky, and after a few minutes with the sandflies we jumped back in the boat and headed for more familiar ground.

On the opposite side of Worsley Arm is Glade Arm which takes you to the start of the Milford Track at Glade Wharf. It had been a few years since I had been here as a guide, but you never forget how incredible the place really is.

We tied the boat to the wharf and then went for a wander so I could reminisce about my days working on the track, and I also had a chance to show off my old workplace to Dylan. The lodge was locked up for the winter and sat empty, waiting for it’s next season hosting happy hikers as they begin their guided Milford Track adventure.

After a quick look at the lodge we headed back to the boat and contemplated our next move. It was now well into the afternoon, so it was time to start thinking about where we were going to spend the night…

The First Lodge on the Milford Track

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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