Te Anau was our “base camp” for a drive to Milford Sound. On the way we stopped at Kingston, at the southern tip of lake Wakatipu. Kingston town was once a major transport link between the Wakatipu district’s gold fields and the shipping ports of Dunedin and Invercargill. The train was the main transportation, coming to be known as the Kingston Flyer, which transported passengers, freight, and, most importantly, mail, most of which was picked up by ship for onward journey to Queenstown etc.
But the opening of the Kingston to Queenstown road in the late 1930’s saw the need for rail vastly reduced. Since the 1970’s various attempts have been made, with some successes, to maintain a portion of the railroad as a tourist attraction, but in recent years the rolling stock and other hardware has suffered considerable decay and is no longer functional.
But Kingston is nothing if not pretty, and the quaint library is an example of the nature of this relaxed community.
By the lake at Te Anau is a bird sanctuary, which is remarkable for having a small number of long thought to be extinct Takahe flightless birds. The first recorded European encounter with takahe was in 1849, when a gang of sealers found, captured, and ate one, declaring it to be delicious. Occasionally dead examples were seen and their bodies displayed. On August 7, 1898, on the shore of Te Anau’s Middle Fiord, a dog caught another takahe. This specimen was eventually displayed in the Otago Museum, and was one of four displayed throughout the world. For 50 years it was thought to be the last one.
But Invercargill doctor and amateur naturalist Geoffrey Orbell was not convinced. In November 1948, after detailed studies of potential habitats, he mounted an expedition to the remote Murchison Mountains in Fiordland and was able to film the existence of the bird. The news of what he found there stirred up the ornithological world and made headlines across the globe.
Lake Te Anau – great sunset;