Glaciers around the world are melting and disappearing from World Maps. We are not immune to it as this sad reality is hitting New Zealand as well, and it’s not a nice sight.
The Southern Alps are becoming more and more unstable for alpine activities with increased rock avalanches as the warmer temperatures are melting rock binding ice in lower altitudes then in past.
All this rock avalanche debris falls on the shrinking and narrowing glaciers in valleys below, covering their gasping for breath remnants under layers of rocks.
In case of Tasman Glacier, this is even more evident, as with it’s lengths of 27km now, it is New Zealand’s longest and mightiest glacier…but how long for when its retreat is today estimated to be close to 1 km each year.
In 2010 massive calving event occurred, littering Tasman Glacier terminal lake, non-existent 40 years ago, with tons of ice debris and icebergs.
It’s not every day when event like this happens so I went to check it out myself. When I arrived at the terminal lake near sunset time, the sky suddenly closed up, clouds rolled over my head and it started to snow. The light of the setting sun was penetrating this gentle snowfall, and all Tasman Valley got dressed up in this beautiful pinkish pastel colours…very eerie, moody scene with all the icebergs in the lake…how lucky I was to witness this alone…
Taken with Nikon D300 and Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens
Long days of summer have gone now but I’m really excited (as every year) about approaching winter’s short days and its brilliant photography light. Next to this marvellous light, white peaks around us, late mornings (for sleep in) and early evenings (to catch a dinner without a rush) these are some of few things photographers like about making photographs in winter.
I however do like getting around in summer too and this past summer hasn’t been different for me. After 11 years, I re-visited one of the best locations New Zealand has on offer – the Routeburn Track in Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Park … and what a fantastic trip I had.
It was a photographic bonanza. The weather stayed on my side, giving me plenty of blue skies and suntan, as well as those magical low clouds around Lake Mackenzie . This was really great as it allowed me to photograph an amazing rainforest surrounding it. The only sad thing was that the bush was bone dry, thus lacking that extra juicy kick and the lake was at its lowest everyone I spoke to could have recalled.
Despite this, I’m very happy with few keepers and I got home with.
For those of you who haven’t made it to Routeburn yet, I hope that these sample photos will help you to make up your mind.
Thanks and Enjoy!
In my opinion, one of the most scenic lakes on the West Coast is Lake Wahapo.
Yes, I might be a little bit biased since the lake is only a stone throw away from my house near Whataroa and I feel extremely privileged and humbled to be able to live in such extraordinarily picturesque place.
Due to the silty rivers and wetlands around, the lake has coloured murky water but sustains a great numbers of fish. From brown trouts, eels to even salmons.
It is however it’s settings which make this lake a hot spot to photograph.
Surrounded by rare kahikatea grove and with Mt. Adams, most westerly mountain of the Southern Alps in the background, there is no chance to pass the lake without taking a photo.
This photograph was taken in this years winter only few minutes after sunset, which is my favourite time to photograph.
The air starts to be filled with those magical hues of purplish colours, often hues only camera’s sensor can reveal during longer exposure times. You have to be quick though, as those colours usually disappear quickly.
Dusk over Lake Wahapo with Mt. Adams in background, Westland National Park, West Coast, New Zealand
Taken with Nikon D800E and Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 lens
For more images of beautiful lakes in New Zealand, please visit our site and gallery
Stock images of scenic lakes in New Zealand
Photo: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com
Thank you and Enjoy!
Leaving Mt. Aspiring National Park in Harris Saddle, the track begins to drop down and zig zags on the Hollyford Face. From here some amazing vistas are to be seen with Lake Mackenzie in far distance at the bottom of the valley and, it may take around 3hrs to get to Lake Mackenzie Hut from an area of fragile alpine vegetation of Harris Saddle. After several zig zags, track enters beautiful, densely in moss cloaked Fiordland bush before reaching the hut. Remember, this is Fiordland, one of the wettest regions in the World and this amazingly green ancient forest is proof of it.
Result of the last glaciation, Lake Mackenzie, beautifully surrounded by this juicy green bush and grey rocks, is one of the gems in Fiordland. Its breath taking emerald colours, enhanced on my overcast day, are quite extraordinary and I could spend many days here just exploring and photographing. Can’t wait to be back one day again!
One of my favourite tramps is Hollyford Track. It’s quite a while since I walked it (2002) but the memories are just as fresh as if I was there yesterday. This multiple days trip through the rainforest into total wilderness can be made into sort of a loop but it would be very hard and demanding adventure coming back through the Pyke River. It’s around 4 days to hike to Martins Bay from the road end therefore for most people this trip ends after reaching the Tasman Sea. However, there are several options how to get there. One can hitch the ride on a jet boat and follow rivers and lakes most of the way up to the Martins Bay and walk back or vise versa. The plane flight can also be arranged and doing the same, walking in or out. But for some, it can be just an adventure for 10-12 days (depending on how many days you want to spend at Martins Bay) of walking in and out using just your legs. And this was my case.
One of the many nights is spend at Lake Alabaster. This is absolutely beautiful, remote place with plenty of solitude on offer. Lake lies in the northern part of Fiordland National Park and is around 6km long. Camping just beside the hut with lake views similar to the one I’m posting here is something not to be forgotten, ever.
After spending a night at Brewster Hut, it’s not too long to get to the Brewster Glacier, just around couple of hours of hiking.
Brewster Glacier is a magical place to photograph…the glacier melt water gathers and forms stunningly coloured terminal lakes. Yes, these lakes are freezing cold but their emerald colour makes them look amazing, with its source, the Brewster Glacier and Mt. Brewster 2515m asl, right behind it.
Despite of relatively not too difficult hike to the glacier, the hike shouldn’t be taken lightly. Especially during the unpredictable wether period. There is no track as such and you need to find and follow orange poles on the beginning and then just know the terrain and find your way through the steep slopes and scree, as the poles are not all the way to the glacier. Since the route leads along steep slopes with some moderate exposure which may be fine in summer but during the winter or low clouds, this can be quite dangerous. Other thing to consider is that the route runs through an avalanche path in winter. This avalanche hazard applies long into the spring so if considering heading that way, be extra vigilant and experienced, and definitely check the weather before you take off.
When you eventually make it through though, you will never forget it!
One of the most striking forms of evidence of glacial erosion is the colour of rivers like the Waiho River in Franz Josef. The melt water of the river gains a characteristic greyish colour, sometimes known as glacier milk. This is the result of the suspension of very fine grains of rock <0.002mm in size. These particles are called glacial flour and are the result of a type of glacial erosion known as abrasion. The abrasion occurs where the glacier slides over bedrock and works much like sandpaper, as rock fragments meet at the boundary of rock and ice they grind and smooth the surface below. If a large rock is trapped, large grooves or glacial striations are engraved into valley walls and bedrock.
Another major type of erosion is known as plucking. When the ice slides over the downstream side of the bedrock, it can freeze loosened rocks from the bottom into itself and rips the rocks out from the valley floor and walls, changing its shape forever.