Lake Monowai at dusk
Image: Carly Williamson © 

Introduction

The Lake Monowai and Borland Road area offers access into a different and very handsome part of Fiordland National Park. It offers great ‘off the beaten track’ tramping, hunting, boating and fishing and road access into Fiordland National Park.

Highlights

Handsome scenery and interesting geology - from lookouts along the Borland Road you will enjoy stunning views into Fiordland and east towards the Takitimu Mountains. From the Borland Saddle, you can see remains of a momentous landslide - the largest documented landslide of its type in the world. You will be fascinated by the weathered granite formations in the Mt Eldrig and Mt Titiroa areas too.  

The road goes up to tree line at Borland Saddle (990 m), where you can see alpine flowers and remains of an ancient landslide, then winds down to Lake Manapouri.

Mountain biking - if you’re a keen mountain biker the Borland Road has an excellent challenge for you - and is the furthest in you can get with your mountain bike into Fiordland National Park (biking is not otherwise permitted on tracks or in the Park).

Family camping and a nature walk for children - Lake Monowai is a relatively quiet spot and great for family camping. There are a few short walks suitable for children in the area, including the Borland Nature Walk. If you can get to the Borland Saddle, the short tramp up Mt Burns will inspire the family with great views.

Off the beaten track - if you like to get out there into the wilds, away from the crowds but still amongst stunning Fiordland scenery, then this area has lots of spots for you. The Green Lake and Monowai Huts are great places to get away to, and there is good hunting and fishing in the area.

Place overview

Activities

  • Camping
  • Mountain biking
  • Walking and tramping

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    Geology - a momentous landslide

    From Borland Saddle on the Borland Road, you can see the remains of a momentous landslide, the largest documented landslide of its type in the world.

    Around 12,000 to 13,000 years ago the earth shook as 27 cubic km of mountain fell from the Hunter Mountains near the Borland Saddle into the tail end of Lake Monowai.

    Nine km of the Hunter Mountains, heavily faulted from ancient earth movements were undermined by a shrinking glacier and shaken by an earthquake.

    Birds and other wildlife

    Along the Borland Nature Walk or in the nearby beech forest you might see friendly New Zealand robins, riflemen, tomtits, fantails, brown creepers, grey warblers and kakariki/parakeets. You might also see or hear waterfowl, finches, ruru/morepork, longtailed or shining cuckoos, and occasionally the kaka or falcon. Above the tree line you might see pipits and occasionally a passing kea.

    The Borland River and Pig Creek support trout, eels, cockabullies and a wide variety of insect life.

    Lake Monowai, in addition to native fish, now supports a productive fishery of introduced rainbow and brown trout.

    History and culture

    Early Māori

    Early Māori valued the Lake Monowai area for its mahika kai (food). They collected freshwater fish including giant kōkopu, koaro, tuna/longfinned eel and kanakana/lamprey.

    Hydro electric power

    The level of Lake Monowai was raised 2.5 m in 1926, making it one of the first lakes in New Zealand to be controlled for hydro-electric power production.

    Borland Road

    Construction of the Borland Road began in 1963 to enable erection and servicing of a transmission line between West Arm Power Station on Lake Manapouri and Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter near Invercargill.

    The road is now maintained by the power station but access is allowed for recreation into this special area.

    Getting there

    Lake Monowai and the Borland Road are located about 67 km from Te Anau (1 hour), and 120 km from Invercargill (1 hour 45 min) and can be accessed via the Southern Scenic Route.

    From Te Anau, drive south via the Te Anau-Mossburn Highway and onto the Blackmount-Redcliff Rd. After 55 km (about 40 min), turn right into Lake Monowai Rd just north of the Blackmount School. Follow signs to Borland Lodge or Lake Monowai (both reached after about 20 min).

    From Invercargill, drive 77 km to Clifden (65 min) then head north on the Clifden-Blackmount Rd (25 km, 20 min) until turning left into the Lake Monowai Rd, just north of the Blackmount School. Follow signs to Borland Lodge or Lake Monowai (both reached after about 20 min).

    The Borland Road

    From the gate just after Borland Lodge it is about 15 km up the Borland Road to Borland Saddle (990m above sea level).

    A toilet, parking and natural history information are available at the saddle.

    After the saddle the road goes down to the South Arm of Lake Manapouri (90 km return from Borland Lodge).

    The Borland Road may be closed at any time - to find out the road’s status, contact the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, Borland Lodge directly, or DOC Invercargill office. 

    The Borland Road is maintained for power line construction and is unsealed, narrow and steep in places, and subject to slips, washouts, snow, ice, high winds and fallen trees.

    It is usually fine for walking, mountain biking, 4WD vehicles and some other vehicles (depending on conditions).

    It is not suitable for campervans, caravans or trailers. Vehicles are not allowed off the main road.

    There are no fuel, communication (including cell phone coverage) or emergency services along its length, therefore only those properly equipped should attempt to negotiate the road.

    Know before you go

    Contacts

    Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 3 249 7924
    Address:   Fiordland National Park
    Visitor Centre
    Lakefront Drive
    Te Anau 9600
    Email:   fiordlandvc@doc.govt.nz
    Full office details
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