Lake Orbell

28 March 2021 - David Cary

On Sunday I was extremely lucky to get a place on DoC Fiordland’s annual Lake Orbell trip

, very few places are available and last years trip was cancelled due to weather and covid. The Murchison Mountains are a restricted area, its not possible to do this trip without an almost impossible to get permit.

We left before sunrise from the Real Journeys Wharf on the Luminosa, thanks Fred and co. for getting up early for us.

Sunrise at the Glow Worm Caves Wharf

It is a very interesting, steep 3 hour plus walk into Lake Orbell. The country is great, different to what we are accustomed to due to the limestone soils.

Limestone gully on the way to Lake Orbell

After a steep few hours the track levels out into a broad open valley.

Flattening out near Lake Orbell

There were 26 huts built in the Murchison Mountains and 20 are still in use by DoC staff and contract trappers.

Hut near Lake Orbell

Lake Orbell is one of the coldest places in New Zealand in the winter. The Murchisons are a harsh environment and 10% of the adult Takahe population die every year.

Lake Orbell and weather station

We had all the gear and local knowledge, it didn’t take long to find Mark, born in the Murchisons, and Magellan, born at Burwood near Mossburn.

Tracking gear

It was quite another story coaxing them into the open. They were both very wary of the 15 human invaders.

Two Takahe in the wild

Since they were showing signs of distress we made a quick retreat via the beach on Lake Orbell where Takahe were first rediscovered by Jeffery Orbell.

Beach where Takahe rediscovered

It was a fast easy descent back to the Glow Worm Caves to meet the last boat for the day at 3:45 pm.

Forest Murchison Mountains

Forest is nice and open, easy going, in this valley.

Forest Murchison Mountains

Thanks to Jason and Maddy for an interesting day that I will remember for a long time.