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Constant beauty

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July 2020 Issue

Lake Constance, Nelson Lakes National Park

Lake Constance is huge. Two kilometres long and up to 700m wide, it lies in a massive post-glacial basin at 1340m, making it the largest truly alpine lake in New Zealand. While there are larger valley floor lakes in the Aoraki/Mt Cook region that could be termed alpine, they are much lower at 900-1100m, and some of these are still smaller than Lake Constance which fills the upper Sabine Valley below rugged Waiau Pass on the Te Araroa Trail.

This reach of indigo blue luminescence immerses the viewer into a world of alpine beauty virtually unrivalled elsewhere in New Zealand. During the winter months, the lake view takes on an even greater depth and austerity, a magnified presence if you will.

We made the short climb up over the immense boulder dam holding back the waters from nearby Blue Lake Hut one early winter’s day, before tackling the steep and snowy route to Moss Pass – and we were pleased we did. That day, the lake was still and calm and with fresh powder snow covering the entire basin it was a sight to behold.

Taking stock of the scene was impossible, it was something you needed to imbibe, to savour and store amid the memories of the wild.

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Moderate / Difficult
6-9 days to walk the Waiau Pass Route
From either Lake Rotoiti or Lake Rotoroa. Lake Constance is reached on the Waiau Pass Route or as a diversion to the Moss Pass Route