Monday, May 12, 2014

Kettlehole Track, Lake Pukaki

Kettlehole Track on glacial Lake Pukaki terminal moraine is about 47 kms from Lake Tekapo. Kettlehole Track turnoff from SH8 is just before Lake Pukaki spillway. Beyond Lake Pukaki dam is the busy Mt Cook lookout, public toilets & kiosk for expensive salmon treats.

A DOC sign states walking time is 1/2 an hour, but I'd found DOC walking times in the past notoriously quick, so I guesstimated mine & Leah's walking times for our short legs as double the DOC time, which proved correct. Then there was the additional 1/2 hour walking time round the glacial kettlehole, which a DOC board said was formed by a big chunk of glacial ice on the terminal moraine, which slowly melted, leaving the kettlehole.

The track undulates over sheep paddocks, past scattered moraine stones, with glorious views of Mackenzie Country, Southern Alps ranges & Lake Pukaki. We crossed 2 rabbit fences - the first over a stile, the next through an open gate, which I thought useless for detaining noxious rabbits.

Dominating the view is nearby Lake Pukaki, its terminal moraine, with SH8 on it & lateral moraines going towards Mt Cook. Scattered pine forests on lateral moraines & wilding pines green-pollute high country golden views. A plaque at the top of Burkes Pass quotes someone recommending that settlers should plant trees, but their boring pines & larches spoil the view, like on Mt Cook station. I thought southern beeches would've been better plantings. Yet station owners nowadays still plant pine forests in Mackenzie Country.

Mackenzie Country snow capped panorama seen from Kettlehole Track:

S - Twizel embedded in trees, Mt Benmore & Lake Benmore.

E - Two Thumbs Range, Rollesby Range, Dalgety Range & Grampian Range...

W - Mt Stafford, Black Hills & Ben Ohau Range with peaks going northwards: Ben Ohau, Backbone, Mackenzie, Razorback, Dun Fiunary, Glentanner... Mt Sealy, Sefton, Footstool, La Perouse, Mt Cook.

Mt Sefton is seen from Kettlehole Track, but is not seen from the tourist lookout, as Rhoboro Hills obscure Mt Sefton views.

N & NE from Mt Cook we saw various peaks & ranges: Mt Wakefield, Mt Blackburn, Burnett Range, Nuns Veil, Gammack Range, Braemar Dome, Mt Stevenson, Mt Mistake. Mt John & Lake Tekapo are obscured by Mary Range. Two Thumbs Range, Mt Richmond, Mt Ardmore & Mt Edward go SE to Burkes Pass.

The kettlehole, with a waterhole at the bottom, has 2 ecosystems: tussock grassland on the wet W slope & spiky matagouri on the dry E slope. On the still, high pressure system day we walked Kettlehole Track, Raolia australis, vegetable sheep growing beside the track, signed harsh alpine winds.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.