A hidden lake on the Routeburn Track
Earland Falls stands at an impressive 174m tall and is a popular attraction on the Routeburn Track Great Walk. However, few ever see the source of the magnificent cascade – Lake Roberts, an alpine lake nestled between steep mountainsides.
A trip to the lake makes an excellent overnighter, with access from the Greenstone Saddle leading through the dense bush before emerging above the bushline. Just beyond the treeline is a plateau at Pt1085. It’s dotted with tarns and is an attractive camping spot.
From the tarns, a climb straight up past the 1500m contour can end at a high saddle directly south of Lake Roberts. Perseverance to make it here is rewarded with views to the west over Key Summit and Mts Christina and Lyttle. It’s also from this point that the glimpse of Lake Roberts, sitting at the bottom of a cauldron of mountains, is obtained.
The descent to the lake is very steep and extreme care is required to safely navigate the steep bluffs. Trampers should also be cautious of rockfall as there are active rockslides on the higher slopes.
At the lake, there are several options for campsites: a gently-sloping tussock area or nearer the lake’s outlet, there is flatter ground and the possibility of a rock bivvy – be mindful though that it is not permitted to camp within 500m of the Routeburn Track.
It is possible to descend from the lake via Pt1197, where there are views of the falls and some interesting rock formations. Climb back over the high saddle and then traverse north to Pt1197. This route eventually leads to the Routeburn Track which can be followed back to The Divide.
– Sam Harrison