Te Anau then and now

We had many summer holidays at Lake Te Anau. These photos of my brother and me with our parents were taken on the Te Anau launch in the 1950s. With its wood and brass, the launch is far from the craft which take people on to the lake now.

Faith in Fiordland on the right was built in the 1930s and provides today’s passengers with a bit of class and nostalgia. Otherwise, it’s up-to-the-minute water transport.

We loved to watched the flying boat, the amphibian, landing and taking off from the lake.

There are still gum trees along the waterfront exuding the eucalyptus aroma I remember so well.

Here is the boat harbour where we used to fish for minnows with a bent pin and worm bait. There were often shredded eels which had become entangled in boat’s’ propellers.

My uncle Bill and my father, various cousins and uncles would go fly fishing. I wonder if this photo shows my brother’s first catch.

At the Red Cliff Cafe where I had dinner last night, there was an old Singer sewing machine like the one my aunt had at the crib in Te Anau.

An indispensable household item is now a design feature.

We would often eat fish at Te Anau. My Uncle Bill was a great fisherman and would bake the fish wrapped in foil, with butter and lemon. At The Red Cliff Cafe, I had back strap of wild hare with mushrooms, potato, beetroot relish and pea puree. A local pinot noir from Wild Earth Wines went with it well.

As a child I heard adults talking of Dr Orbell who discovered takahe in Fiordland in the 1940s, a bird previously thought to be extinct. Now you can visit them at the bird sanctuary in Te Anau. Yesterday I was delighted to see a family of five including chicks almost as big as their parents. They were ‘talking’ to each other as they foraged.

Te Anau is in Fiordland National Park so it remains in essence as it was, unlike what Press columnist, Joe Bennett, describes as the “landscape papered with money” in Queenstown which I drove quickly past today.

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