Aoraki / Mackenzie Country

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The Mackenzie Basin is an elliptical intermontane basin located in the Mackenzie and Waitaki Districts, near the centre of the South Island of New Zealand. It is the largest such basin in New Zealand and leads to the highest mountains of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana as well as Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohau. It has a spectacular Southern entranceway – The Lindis Pass which holds some very special early morning and late evening light and shadows. The basin can be clear or filled with menacing clouds – either way it has a presence.

Aoraki/ Mt Cook and the mountains dominate the vertical landscape of the area, bold, upright and trying (unsuccessfully) to hold back the weather fronts banked up on the West Coast. It is not an area for the fainthearted.

I am most familiar with Lake Ohau. I grew up here from the age ot two through to 21 where we had an annual winter holiday at Lake Ohau Lodge. Here, I learnt to ski tour back country and enjoy the spectacular reflections that the lake so often offered. I also worked as a general labourer and ski patrolled here for a year – it was a time of great learning, a time isolated from the rest of the world. It is a very special and magical place.

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