As I write surf crashes on to the wild west coast beach nearby, sucking the stones back with a ripping slurp. As one wave disappears another comes rolling in, a slurry of foam lifting in the wind as it drives up the beach.
Inland, not far from here, an iron grey lake sits quietly, surrounded by verdant temperate forest. A chorus of native songbirds tinkles and trills, unseen in the heavy greenery overhead. A kereru, or native pigeon, pumps noisily through the air, crashing on to a nearby branch as he lands solidly. Some days the lake is streaked with wind, but today it is quiet.
The Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki sits in the middle of this riotous feast of nature. Guests come here to enjoy the bird life, both seabirds and forest birds. There is excellent hiking along beautiful forest trails and kayaking on the lake. The coast, just a 45 minute walk from the lodge, is home to NZ fur seals, tawaki or Fiordland Crested Penguins and dolphins. There are many opportunities to observe these amazing creatures as they come and go during the year, delivered by the boisterous currents of the great Southern Ocean. There is also world-class fly fishing for brown trout nearby. The lodge is within reach of some great fishing but there are no guides available in this remote spot. The lodge has fishing gear to hire and they can tell you where to go for your best chance at catching something.
Accommodation at the lodge is in 28 four star Riverview and Garden rooms. The inclusive rate includes dinner and breakfast, and one or two shorter guided activities a day as well. Dinner is a set menu with several options each evening.
Lake Moeraki is part of the vast South Westland National Park and also of the Te Wahi Pounamu World Heritage Area. It’s ecological pedigree is supreme. The only practical ways to arrive are by road or helicopter. The lodge is a 90 kilometre drive south of Fox Glacier, one of two glaciers that curl off the Southern Alps and plunge down towards the coast, their termini surrounded by temperate rainforest. It’s within a 4 hour drive of Queenstown from the south or Greymouth from the north.
The Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki is open from mid-August to the end of April each year. Bookings are essential in the high season as there are no nearby alternatives should the lodge be full on arrival. We can also arrange twin stays at Lake Moeraki and its sister lodge at Arthur’s Pass, high in the Southern Alps. This gives a fabulous opportunity to experience two of the South Island’s outstanding natural ecological regions in one stay.
(C) Sue Farley