The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 5 (August 1, 1934)
Lake Rotoroa — The Sportsman's Paradise
“Where each new day is like an opening flower, Whose leaves unfold in beauty hour by hour; Till purple shadows lingering over late Have watched the red sun close the western gate. And old romance is there its spell to weave, When night enfolds this lovely lake at eve.”
Leaving the West Coast road at Gowan Bridge, and motoring for seven miles along a bush fringed road that leads into the heart of the hills, the traveller comes to Lake Rotoroa. And here is rest, complete enough to satisfy the most tired wayfarer.
The lake, which is over 10,000 acres in extent, stretches for about ten miles into the hills, and the bush on all sides reaches down to the water's edge. The purple-blue of the surrounding hills gives an air of great beauty to the big lake, and to those who indulge only in the quieter pastime of walking, the graceful waterfalls, beautiful wooded gorges, and lovely bushland walks, are a sheer delight.
The hills in places rise to a height of over 8000ft., and there is excellent deer-stalking, as well as pig and smaller game shooting to be had there. The best of fishing also awaits the angler, many fine specimens of rainbow trout finding their way to the accommodation house whenever the launch leaves the little jetty with fishermen aboard.
The track leading to the “look-out” is the original one used by the miners in the early days, when hundreds of miners, carrying their swags, trudged over Lake Hill seeking fortune in the goldfields. Fat bullocks were used for transport, and then sold on arrival at Lyell.
Visitors from all parts of the world have remarked on the variety of the scenic attractions at Lake Rotoroa. On the track leading to the “look-out” there are some of the finest native trees to be seen anywhere in New Zealand. In the denser parts of the surrounding bush the ferns form a veritable fairyland, and hidden away there, covered with moss and ferns, lie the trunks of long dead giants of the forest, magnificent trees that probably towered for centuries above those now standing; and these latter include many splendid specimens of brown and black birch, rimu, black and white pine, and totara.
In the cool shadow of a perfect evening on the lake a family of teal swam leisurely past the boat, and the lights from the distant Lake House looked like fairy lanterns across the wide expanse of rippling water.
In the bush are friendly fantails, pert little tomtits, native wrens and small cuckoos, as well as native pigeons, and there
“Bellbirds chime and tuis sing His praise,
Who gave them wooded dells and sunny days.”
The lake is fed by two rivers, the Sabine and D'Urville, both famous for their trout; this probably accounting for the lake having beens given the title of “The Fisherman's Paradise.”
The view from the Lake House is remarkable, and from the balcony the lake may be seen in all its varying moods.
The old hut that the miners used still stands at the lake edge, and the long deal table, built against the wall, with the fixed form running the full length of it, are truly eloquent reminders of the old mining days. One could imagine the weary miners trying to snatch a few hours sleep before setting out on the long trail over the hill to the goldfields, where either fortune or oblivion awaited them. The big fireplace must have cheered many hearts by its friendly blaze, and provided many a hot mug of tea for parched throats.
The old days are gone, and many of the miners who slept in the old hut are sleeping their last sleep on some quiet hillside or in some lonely gulch. But two of their remaining number returned to the old place during the writer's stay at the lake, and gladly set their blackened billies on the old friendly hob.
And while the big water-wheel, turning slowly close beside their hut, let loose a hundred dancing lights in the big Lake House they lit their little bit of candle as they did in the old dead years, and with the music of running waters lulling them to rest—
“Stretched themselves in the friendly bunks,
As they did in the nights of yore;
And slept, to dream of other days,
The days that are no more.”
The gold quest is again luring them up the old track, and next day one of them proudly exhibited a tiny nugget of the precious metal no bigger than a pin's head, which he had kept for safety in the peak of his old cap. Let us hope he finds many more to keep it company.
There is gold of many kinds to be found as we wander along life's track, and like the old miner, the writer too found at Lake Rotoroa something to treasure—“a memory of dancing lights on peaceful waters, and the morning song of birds.”