Deep breath, keep breathing and drive through it, whatever you do don’t stop. More heavy breathing as I realise it is deeper than I thought. Keep breathing, keep driving….
I had heard of Lake Sumner – north west of Christchurch and into the Southern Alps. The Lake Sumner Forest Park has the richest forest-bird diversity in the Canterbury – and is home to the Great Spotted Kiwi among other rare birds. We have bought a Nissan Xtrail for just this purpose – getting into some of the wilds of the South Island.
When we turned off at Waikari and the sign said 35 kms, I thought we are nearly there. Mistake. It did not say what kind of road it was. Luckily we stopped at the fairly new Pams Cafe – good inexpensive food and coffee – try the pies I had Kumara and Lamb – yum. But I digress.
The road to Lake Taylor was fine – standard NZ country driving – twists and turns, up hill and down dale, some sealed, some rough shingle. The campground has lots of people in it, despite and pretty ferocious north westerly – though we had noticed a few people heading home.
The road beyond Lake Taylor towards Lake Sumner has a gate and says “4WD Only”. No problem, time to try out the Xtrail. Putting it into full 4WD we are off, and soon realise that this is very serious 4WD territory. I worry that I, or the car may not be up to it. Several very serious 4WD with snorkels for their exhaust pass us. Each wheel is on a different level as we go up and down hills, through ponds of water, at one stage I could not see the road out the other side and wondered if those cars with snorkels might be onto something.
What is the worse that can happen – the car stops and we are stuck. No mobile reception. I suppose a big butch 4WD could soon come along and rescue us… I wonder how deep it is….
All the other ups and downs are taken in our stride. Nothing could beat that. Seriously – we are driving at 5 km/hour – or I think we are, I am too busy managing pot holes to look at the speedo. It is like riding a bronco or what I imagine riding a bronco is like.
I met two women mountain biking the track who confirmed my suspicion that it would have been quicker to bike it than drive it – especially with my electric bike 🙂
Eventually we see Loch Katrine and Lake Sumner in the distance – photo opportunity. The loch is the end of the line for the car – from here on it is on foot or mountain bike, although we discover later you can take a car through to Lake Sumner.
Another basic DOC campground with the Nor Wester barrelling in. Lots of lovely campsites with trees, some even have tables, and there are toilets.
Try for the campsite under the apple tree, toilets nearby.
There are lots of walking tracks – From 1 hr to 5 hours, some with huts at the end. The Te Ara Roa trial runs though the area. More information about the area here
Maori know Lake Sumner as Hoka Kura, it was on one of the main old trading routes to the West Coast and the Pounamu (greenstone) found there. Hoka Kura remains an important source of mahinga Kai (food source).
The Maurice (essence) of Hoka Kura represents the essence that binds the physical and spiritual elements of all things together generating and upholding life. All the elements of the natural environment possess a life force and all forms of life are related. Mauri is a critical element of the spiritual relationship of Ngai Tahu people with the lake.