Guilt from overindulging at a buffet lunch at The Hermitage pushed me up the track* toward the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake. It was hot, the landscape was barren, overindulgence had turned energy into lethargy ….. and then I saw it – the surreal ice green lake, my guilt had served me well.
The melting Tasman Glacier created the lake, glaciologists predict it will eventually disappear. The glacier flow to the water looks more like an undulating sheet of brown gravel than ice as the glacier is coated with rock and debris. However you can see patches of white on the glacier face where chunks of ice have fallen into the water. On our visit small icebergs were floating on the lake, but the icy landscape is constantly changing.
In winter the lake freezes, but between September – May boats take visitors out on the water for a closer look. In February 2013 visitors got to see the biggest berg of them all – it rose more than 40 metres above the waterline.
*The Tasman Glacier Lake Walk takes around an hour return, it’s an easy walk on a gravel track with a bit of a rocky scramble at the end. It’s a good detour to make on your way to or from Aoraki Mt Cook – drive down unsealed Tasman Valley Road for 8km until you reach the car park, Blue Lakes shelter and toilets. Take binoculars if you have them, and let the landscape surprise you.
Other DOC walking tracks in the area including Hooker Valley Track to the Hooker Glacier. There is a DOC Visitor Centre at Aoraki Mt Cook for up-to-date track and weather information.
Glacier Explorers can take you on the lake from $145 adult, children 4-14, $70.