McKenzie Country


The Mackenzie Basin is located in the middle of the South Island at an average of more than 300 meters above sea level. It contains Lakes such as Tekapo, Alexandrina, Pukaki, Ohau, Ruataniwha and Benmore. Because of the Basin is surrounded by mountain ranges it has a very distinct climate. The Mackenzie Basin is named after the legendary Scottish shepherd James Mackenzie. In 1857 the 704,000 hectares of the Basin was divided among runholders who mainly run merino sheep.


Celmisia semicordata and Celmisia spectabilis

My stay here is almost entirely weather dependant. I don’t intend to go to Mt Cook again (but that may change), if it is nice weather I want to look at the stars, walk around the lake, even canoe (provided free by the camp) and look around Twizel. The is also the draw of the Crested Grebe and the Mountain Daisy and always for Keas. Which is more Mt Cook 🙂


The (Australian) Crested Grebe

This single span deck arch bridge of the Twizel Iron Bridge was built over the Ohau River in 1889.with a clear span of 36.5 metres and an overall length of 41.5 metres. It was probably designed by Charles Banks, who was the Waitaki County Engineer at this time.



The Twizel iron bridge

November is also, coincidentally, the time when the lupins flower! The Russel Lupins were introduced in the 1950′s by Connie Scott of the nearby high country station of Godley Peaks, when the seed was scattered along the exposed sides of the main highway. These tall spikes of colour now grow in abundance along many roadsides and throughout the scenic Mackenzie country. The variety of colours make the already stunning Lake Tekapo area a photographers paradise. The plant threatens indigenous species especially when it invades the braided river beds but it’s a tourist drawcard 😉 including this tourist.


I found it difficult to find a natural photo of the lupins The tendency seems for photographers to produce highly edited photos of intense colours which I find unpleasant.

Lake ruataniwha

Lake Ruataniwha and it did look like this when we were here in April!


Twizel and lake ruataniwha looking south toward omarama

Twizel and Lake Ruataniwha looking south toward Omarama

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