Invercargill to Lake Matheson and Keas

Mirror Lake aka Lake Matheson

I love the way New Zealand promotes its natural features.  Take, for example, Mirror Lake. There must be hundreds of mirror lakes all over the world but only in New Zealand have I experienced a lake with a coach stop, dedicated walks with photo opportunites, leaflets and even its very own website.

New Zealand’s Mirror Lake is officially known as Lake Matheson and is situated in the Westland National Park on the road from Te Anau to Milford and it really is worth taking the 90 minute walk around the lake which is overlooked by Mt Cook and Fox Glacier.

We had spent the previous few days at the south of South Island at a surprisingly cheap campsite just on the outskirts of Invercargill, the southernmost city in New Zealand and renowned for being a wee bit windy, the second windiest city in New Zealand after Wellington seemingly.

Between the two of us, we managed to erect the tent in the wind which fortunately wasn't accompanied by the horizontal rain that this city is also famous for.  
It was a wee bit cold and windy at the bottom of New Zealand

As I hammered in the last peg, a plane flew over and I swear it was barely 10ft above my head as it made its way to the airport runway at the end of the campsite. I then realised why the campsite was so economical with its pricing and description of location details. Luckily, however, it wasn’t a busy airport but it did make our tent shake.

By late afternoon the wind had increased to such a level that our little tent was being flattened so much it was barely habitabl, so the campsite owners offered us and the other campers, the use of the hanger to pitch our tents.  We all moved indoors to barn type accommodation where there was hay on the floor, a corrugated iron roof and free of the wind.

As we were re pitching our tent, a young guy travelling on his own asked worriedly. "Do you think there'll be any rats in here?"  "No, definitely no rats." I reassured him confidently and grateful that he didn't press me any further on how I knew that.   I had no idea really but telling him there might be, would have given him a very restless night worrying about man-eating rodents.

Westland National Park on the road to Te Anau

We arrived at Te Anau to be greeted by some curious parrot like birds which I later discovered were Keas. They had a call like an old fashioned tape being played faster than it should, a kind of high pitched girly chatter which sometimes became a descending giggle. We'd heard about Keas and how they can be quite mischievous and destructive but they were the most amazing things we'd seen in the wild on our journey so far. 

We got talking to John, an independent cyclist exploring New Zealand by bike who had encountered these birds while camping further north.  He told us that he was woken at first light one morning by a noise around his tent which sounded like someone playing with the guy ropes. When the noise persisted, he stuck his head out to find some keas pulling at his guy ropes and fastenings, which displeased him but what pleased him even less was when he noticed another four starting to get to work on stripping his bike.

His delivery of his escapades with these parrots was priceless and we couldn't help laughing but it had only happened a few days prior to this and his feeling towards the keas was still rather cold.  I hope when he looks back at that time, he finds his encounter with the keas as amusing as we did, but at the time when he was regaling his tales of these calamitous birds who were hell bent on destroying his tent and his only mode of transport; his mood was still quite irritable.

Who couldn't love a cheeky little face like that?
An innocent looking clever little Kea
If you have ever met a Kea, I'd love to here about it.

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