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Glorious scenery
Monro Beach

Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki

Thursday, March 4, 2004
Sorrel is on location in New Zealand's wild west ... outdoor wilderness and indoor luxury.

Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki on the west coast of New Zealand's south island is in pristine rainforest, 30km from the nearest town. It's where the Tasman Sea meets the ancient rainforest. The lake is renowned for its huge trout, two-metre-long eels and waterbirds. A seal has even found its way there from the Tasman.

In 1989, teacher Anne Saunders and her biologist husband Dr Gerry McSweeney arrived at Lake Moeraki from Wellington and set up the lodge to help protect the rainforest and share the superb natural setting with visitors. The four-hectare property is managed by Dorothy Piper and Malcolm Edwards and an enthusiastic team, while Anne and Gerry are now involved in similar work in the Southern Alps.

The lodge offers comfort and beauty in a landscaped lakeside clearing surrounded by 1000-year-old rainforest. Its 28 rooms — 18 lodge and 10 garden — are self contained and the restaurant and lounges give views of the Moeraki Rapids.

The guest lounge has an open log fire. There is a wine cellar, laundry and souvenir shop. Breakfast and dinner are included. Food is good and fresh, with whitebait from the river, seafood from the coast, game from the forest and fresh local fruit and vegetables.

The lodge does not receive a television signal and mobile phones don't work in the area. There is a radio phone and fax line, but no telephones are provided in the rooms. The nearest doctor is two hours by road, so it is recommended you bring adequate medication.

The lodge runs its own 37kw hydro-electric generator for all power and all rubbish which can be is recycled.

A 10-kilometre network of rainforest and Tasman seacoast walks radiates out from the Lodge. And there are canoes for guests to use to explore the lake and river. Guides are on hand to help guests spot one of the world's rarest birds, the Fiordland crested penguin, plus fur seals, giant tame eels and birdlife unique to New Zealand and its forests.

Walks include an easy 20-minute lakeside walk, the Giant Rimy walk, winding down the Moeraki Valley above rapids to giant trees, and an 80-minute walk to Monro Beach.

During the construction of the Haast Highway in the 1960s, an illegal bar, the Red Dog Saloon, was opened for road workers. It was raided and closed, but the original building is still on site.

Each day there are guided activities and walks, and in summer, two charged activities which introduce and explain the environment to guests. It is recommended that you wear good sturdy shoes or boots and even in summer months, have lightweight rain clothing.


The western side of New Zealand's south island


Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki lodge rooms start at around $160 per person and garden rooms at $185 per person. Breakfast, dinner and short guided nature activities are included. They operate between August and June.

Qantas flies daily to Christchurch, with return economy airfares starting at $446 from Sydney, $449 from Melbourne and Brisbane, $736 from Adelaide, $816 from Perth and $1129 from Darwin, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing, but may vary at time of booking.

More information

Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki
Private Bag 772, Hokitika
New Zealand
Ph: 0011 64 3 750 0881
Fax: 0011 64 3 750 0882

Qantas: 13 13 13

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