Wakatipu or the shape of a giant

The turquoise blue waters of Lake Wakatipu finally appear in the distance. Surrounded by chains of mountains on all sides I let my eyes wander, amazed by the beauty of the landscape. The bicycle ride from Te Anau was tough but it was worth it. My little bike survived the first two days of the expedition through gravel tracks and river crossings.

Lake Wakatipu is the longest lake in New Zealand with a length of 80km. Queenstown is at one end while Glenorchy, my destination, is on the other side. I squint my eyes but I can’t distinguish the village. The summits are covered with snow and large clouds are visible on the horizon. I feel like I’m gonna have rain.

The most famous Maori legends associated with the lake tells that Manata, the daughter of a chief of a local tribe was one day abducted by the giant Matau. Her lover, Matakauri took advantage of the darkness to save her from the clutches of the giant. To make Matau no longer a threat to his wife, Matakauri set fire to the monster as he slept on the side with his legs folded. The fire dug a hole in the shape of Matau and the heat melted the snow from the mountains that filled the water hole forming the lake. Glenorchy is today located at the position of Matau’s head, Queenstown at his knees and Kingston at his feet. The oscillation of the level of the lake (about 20cm) is supposed to be produced by the heart of Matau which beats still, buried at the bottom of the lake.

Lake Wakatipu - Queenstown - New Zealand - © Claire Blumenfeld

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