Located in Canterbury and the West Coast of New Zealand is the town of Twizel, the closest town to Aoraki Mt Cook, the highest mountain in Australasia.
Twizel was built in 1968 as a construction town for the Upper Waitaki hydroelectric development scheme. It was intended that the town would be removed once the hydro scheme was finished, however in 1983 the local people effectively fought to keep hold of the town, and began to take advantage of its closeness to excellent fishing and boating lakes, and to Mount Cook 61km away.
An important feature of the Upper Waitaki hydro development scheme is 58km of man-made canals, which bring together the resources of Lakes Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau. The lakes created by the hydro scheme have become popular venues for water sports.
Lake Ruataniwha, a man-made lake just south of Twizel, is also popular for water sports such as sailing, water skiing and famous rowing events. It has an International standard rowing course and is the place of national rowing events every year. From Lake Ruataniwha, a preserved rear road leads to Lake Benmore, a 75-sq km hydroelectric dam that has also become a favourite boating destination.
One of Twizel most central attractions is the Kaka Visitor Hide. The Kaki or black stilt is one of the rarest wading birds in the world, and the species has been subject to intensive conservation management since 1981. It is look upon by M?ori as a taonga species – a living treasure. Visitors can take turns to view captive breeding birds from specially designed places.
For more ideas on things to do in Twizel, click here.