South Island, Pt. 13: Glenorchy and Lake Sylvan

About an hour North of Queenstown lies the little town of Glenorchy. Glenorchy is mostly known for being the closest civilization to the Routeburn Track, one of the Nine Great Walks (a disproportionate number of the Great Walks are on the Southern bit of the South Island, which is not overly surprising to anyone who’s been there).

While in Glenorchy I saw a random cat in the car park and tried to photograph it, but some movement of the phone while taking an HDR photo produced this crazy shot that looks like an oil painting. I’m going to claim it’s art and not a botched photograph.

After breakfasting in Glenorchy, I drove even further out along some seriously dodgy dirt and gravel roads (I would never want to take the Alfa on those roads; I was feeling pretty uncomfortable even in the Sunny) to a campsite called Lake Sylvan. I wasn’t interested in camping, but I was interested in hiking.

As it turns out, there’s some hiking to be had here. Lake Sylvan is part of the amusingly named Mount Aspiring National Park, home to other interestingly named mountains such as (and I am not making this up) Mt. Awful and Mt. Dreadful.

The walk starts off crossing the clear, blue Routeburn River on this lovely suspension bridge and immediately plunges into the forest.

This forest gives off a bit of a creepy old forest vibe like the one in The Village. Fortunately, this hike was not directed by M. Night Shyamalan and does not incorporate a twist ending. Sorry to disappoint.

The trail is pretty well-marked and well-packed for most of the way.

Apparently at some point a tree fell in the forest. Preliminary findings indicate that it did indeed make a sound. Problem solved.

This is not, thankfully, a bridge we’re supposed to cross.

This actually is a bridge we’re supposed to cross. A little precarious, but I appreciate the effort.

This stream plays tag with the path for some of the way, but fortunately there aren’t many fords.

There was also random construction equipment strewn around the trail. I definitely didn’t check to see if the keys were still in this one. That would have been wrong.

More river crossings, this time with a very well-built and sturdy bridge.

Look at how clear that water is.

And here we are at the lake. I took this with my phone as an establishing shot for the actual shots I would take with the Nikon of the lake itself, but I ended up liking this shot as much as the other ones!

Also, (un)funny story. When I was sorting my pictures of the South Island, I had some pictures that I just didn’t know where they were taken (and annoyingly when the Nikon writes the date to the file, it does it wrong and I haven’t been able to figure out how to fix it). Somehow all the Lake Sylvan pictures from the Nikon wound up in the “figure out where these were taken sometime later” folder and never got properly sorted. As I was writing this post, I was like “wait, where are all the photos of the lake itself I took with the good camera? I know they’re here somewhere” and I had to dig around for them. I did so by finding the photos taken at the next place I went, looking at the sequence number in the filename, and then searching the whole top-level directory for the sequence number right before that one in order to locate these pictures!

Anyway, nobody cares about that. Here’s the pics:

Looking out to the left of the dock.

And then to the right.

The fantastic straight-ahead view.

Behind the dock.

Down at the water.

So, that’s Lake Sylvan. The track is a partial loop, so I was able to mess about hiking around for a bit more. After that, I returned to my car!

I’ll do a quick trail log next post (quicker than the Coastal Track one anyway!) and then we’ll move on down South!


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