At last, after countless visits to this lake some 600km from my home, some early morning winter mist! I have been here many times when the mountains have been shrouded in thick cloud, and also on bright clear days when the high peaks of New Zealand's Southern Alps are reflected in the water, but the moody, misty conditions this time were the best I have yet encountered.
Mapourika, which roughly translates from Maori to English as the "Flower of the Dawn", is a glacial "kettle lake" formed when a huge chunk of ice was left behind by the fast-retreating Franz Josef glacier some 14,000 years ago. It is the largest lake in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park area. Its shores are lined with a dense rainforest of native kahikatea, rimu, cabbage trees, and abundant flaxes.
This image was made some 25 minutes before sunrise, a dawn twilight not often seen in this area when morning skies are so clear. Reflecting in the still water are the peaks of Mount Tasman (3,497m) and New Zealand's highest summit, Aoraki-Mount Cook (3,724m). Tasman appears higher than Cook from here, as it is closer. The lower peak on the right is Mount Moltke (1,987m).
The vantage point is at the northern end of the lake, a spot known as Otto's Corner. It couldn't be easier to access, and there is a small camping area literally a stone's throw from the lake.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor