Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” – Pedro Calderon de la Barca
It’s funny how quickly we get used to being in a beautiful place. My first week in Te Anau, I spent hours just sitting and reading on the shore of the lake each day after work. I loved how the wind whips the lake to whitecaps in the afternoon, the way the clouds shroud the hill across the water — all to a distant backdrop of snow-topped peaks. I still spend a little time each day relaxing outdoors, but I can already feel the novelty fading. That’s why, several days ago, I walked out of town for a short day hike to Brod Bay.
The footpath outside my accommodation wraps around the southern end of the lake, winding past the Bird Sanctuary before continuing on to the Control Gates. There begins the Kepler Trek, one of New Zealand’s famous Great Walks, and it carries on into the nearby Fiordland National Park. A hike to Brod Bay merely takes trampers on the opening stretch.
Familiar, and yet, markedly different. Looking closer revealed strange plants intermixed with the known, insects I’d never seen before skittered for cover. New Zealand provides an eclectic mix of unique and imported species.
Along the path are a number of wooden boxes, known as stoat tunnels. They’re for, you guessed it, trapping stoats. When Europeans first came to New Zealand, they introduced rabbits as a game animal. The new arrivals bred like, well, rabbits and soon began having a detrimental effect on the native fauna of the islands. Naturally, people figured that introducing another invasive species, the stoat, would fix that problem with no adverse effects. They were warned against doing this by scientists who said it would negatively impact the native bird population, but decided to do it anyways. Guess what happened next.
Long story short, the stoats are bad for New Zealand’s wildlife, so they’re actively exterminated. Each stoat tunnel has an egg for bait, with a lethal trap just inside the entrance.
After a long walk through the woods, patches of sand became visible on the shore. I ducked through the trees and found myself standing on the shore of Brod Bay. It consists of a large crescent of sand, ringed by the encroaching canopy of the forest. Pebbles are strewn about the waterline, the sand pounded away by the wind-whipped waves. I found a shady spot beneath a tree, where I ate the rest of my lunch and promptly fell asleep.
I woke with a start, a particularly strong gust of wind slapping me upside the face and rousing me from my doze. I lingered on the shore for a while longer — enjoying the sound of the surf — before turning my back on the Kepler Trek and heading back towards town.
A day hike to Brod Bay is one of the easiest hikes to access from Te Anau. No vehicle is required, though you can save some time and start from the Control Gates if you have your own transport. It’s extremely easy and is well signed.
Stay tuned for more hiking updates from the Te Anau region!
What’s a good day hike close to where you are? Tell me about it in the comments below!