When you visit New Zealand, South Island, the attractions are numerous. What a fabulous place to spend some time… a truly beautiful country with the South Island being my favourite.
I’ve been fortunate to spend 4 years of my life living in New Zealand with most all of that time down south. I’ve been just about everywhere on both the north and south islands and really, I could go there again and again.
But here I want to talk about the power system being generated by the Waitaki River. This takes place in a most beautiful part of the world. The first time I was taken for a day trip around this powerful river I could hardly believe what my eyes were seeing. You see, here in Australia, although we have many wonderful things to see and enjoy, we don’t have any river systems that look like the amazing rivers in New Zealand.
Rivers hurry to the Sea
What attracted me to them was both their colour and their strength. The South Island of New Zealand is long and narrow, with alps right down the middle of it. It means rivers don’t have far to travel to the sea and as they are being fed from snow melt, they are in an enormous hurry to make it back to the sea from whence they came.
The beds of the rivers are usually very wide because at the height of their flood they fill the beds completely. But at other times of the year, although they still flow swiftly, they create many small streams that interweave along the river bed. This is referred to as a braided river.
There are several large glacial lakes which are worthy of a visit in their own right. Each one is different and has its own character. It’s certainly not a matter of “seeing one, you’ve seen them all”. No way! Each one it totally unique.
Two of the Glacial Lakes
The last time I visited the Church of the Good Shepherd, all on its own on the shores of Lake Tekapo, we were actually there when a Japanese wedding was taking place. They have a window at the back of the church that looks out over the lake to the alps beyond and is truly one of the most incredible scenes you could ever see from inside a church.
See the flowers in the foreground? Yeap, they are really there… everywhere! Lupins, a wonderful array of glorious colour at certain times of the year. You will see them all along the sides of the main roads all through that area. The mountains behind are covered with snow more often than not.
If you are not familiar with the New Zealand Maori language some of the names are tongue twisters. The best way to manage is to remember that unlike English, the Maoris pronounce every syllable. For example: Tekapo is te-ka-po and Pukaki is pu-ka-ki etc.
The next lake down is called Lake Pukaki which is a different colour again to that of Lake Tekapo.
All glacial lakes appear to be “glacial blue”, but the distinctive turquoise colour of Lake Pukaki is something else again.
And… to see it against the backdrop of Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, is breath-taking.
“Lord of the Rings” film location
This is the location they used for the filming of the movie called Lord of the Rings. It’s at the head of Lake Pukaki, where the waters off the glacier run into the lake. It’s virtually at the foot of Mt Cook.
If you saw the movie/s you may recognise the backdrop. By the time they changed things and added their computer generated images, some of it was almost unrecognisable.
The highest peak is Mt Cook. 3,724 mtrs / 12,218 ft.
Fascinating, don’t you think?
River and Lake systems used for Hydroelectric Scheme
The Waitaki River flows through Lake Benmore, Lake Aviemore and Lake Waitaki which are all fed by the large glacial lakes: Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau, before taking an almost direct path to the sea. The head of the river enters the Pacific Ocean between Timaru and Oamaru, two cities on the east coast of the South Island.
The Tekapo-Waitaki system contains 8 hydroelectric power stations in all and accounts for about 50% of New Zealand’s hydroelectric storage.
It’s fascinating to realise that Lake Benmore feeds the Benmore Power Station, which spits out its water to feed the Aviemore Power Station where the same water moves on to feed the Waitaki Power Station, and so it goes. They just use basically the same water to feed power station after power station.
Bird’s Eye View of Waitake River
As you can see by this image taken from the International Space Station, the Waitaki River doesn’t waste any time making its journey to the sea, being virtually in a straight line.
New Zealand is not renowned for its beaches. Coming from Australia – the land of the most fabulous surfing beaches, New Zealand’s beaches did nothing for me at all. But, they more then make up for it with their rivers and alps. I fell deeply in love with both of them. 🙂
Although when you look at a braided river from the air it doesn’t seem to be much, every one of those little streams is running very swiftly and reminds you that you are standing within a great and mighty river… just wait until the snow melts!
I’ve used the Waitaki River as an example of power, and as we’ve seen… the power of that river system generated much energy in the form of hydroelectricity.
My main website is about creating energy in our bodies, through the food (fuel) that we eat and drink on a daily basis. In the same way they use the flow of falling water to convert it into the flow of electrons, which we call electricity,
our bodies also require
good healthy food sources
to give us the energy we need
to live our lives to the fullest extent.
Do you find yourself lacking in energy? Find it hard to do all the things you want to do? Is it hard to squat down? Can’t walk hardly at all before you find yourself puffed out?
Do you think it’s just old age creeping up on you and there’s not much you can do about it?
The truth is you need more energy and unfortunately we can’t go down to the local shop and buy a bottle of energy… scoff it down and we’re right to go. Doesn’t work quite that way, but it is certainly very related to the food and drink you have on a daily basis.
Have you ever travelled to New Zealand? Have you visited the lake and river system I’ve described above? Leave a comment below as I’d love to hear how you found it. If you have any questions I’d be happy to try and answer them for you.
I absolutely love the country of New Zealand, and the South Island attractions are particularly wonderful. Don’t think I don’t also love the North Island, because I do… it’s just different, that’s all. I could very happily spend a holiday in either of the islands as there’s just so much to see. But the South Island holds my heart.