Ultra beautiful Lake Alta
Lake Alta is an exquisite alpine jewel set in a post-glacial cirque at 1800m right under the north-east face of Double Cone, 2319m.
Reaching the lake is easy, considering its location 1500m above the shores of Lake Wakatipu. The reason being the ski field access road, which is open all year, allows walkers to start the trip at the car park at 1600m. This leaves a paltry 210m of ascent, through the ski field and up a well-defined path to the lake edge.
The trail first follows an access road along the route of the chairlifts, and then at a higher level, around 1680m, a zigzagging path leads through steeper tussock slopes and shallow depressions to the lake outlet and shore.
The grand spectacle of the lake is muted somewhat by an ugly container-sized pump sited right on the eastern shore that supplies water to the ski field.
Some of the best views of the lake can be gained by scrambling along the northern shore for about 200m, where a great perspective of the lake’s turquoise depths, juxtaposed with the steep talus bluffs of Double Cone, are revealed. There is also several small bivvy rocks located here, about 20m above the lake. They will take some finding though.
Lunch at the shore is an enjoyable option and perhaps a very brief dip in the lake – if you are brave.
For a return option, it is possible, in good weather, to climb the steep loose slope directly to the north of the lake, passing over a high shoulder at 1930m and then descending into the basin below and following the chairlift carefully back to the access road. Beware of bluffs on this route.
Otherwise you can run through the outlet, then cruise the main trail back to the car park.