The Lakes Motel Twizel
This is the top rated 3-star hotel in Twizel
This is the top rated 3-star hotel in Twizel
Constructed in the 1960s, Twizel won’t beguile anyone with its historic charm. But that’s OK, for this town has more going for it than looks. Surrounded by lakes, Twizel’s watery environs provide endless opportunities for aquatic pursuits. Aesthetically speaking, the town may not impress, but there’s no denying that it is set in a landscape of dramatic beauty. As you gaze upon the region’s azure glaciers and admire its nightly cloak of dark, sparkling skies, it’s easy to forgive Twizel its workaday appearance, for while man may not have been kind to this town, nature has outdone herself here.
Set in the Mackenzie Basin, Twizel is located in the Canterbury Region of New Zealand’s South Island. The town is situated just outside of the famous Southern Alps area, but is still tantalisingly close for those who wish to make a foray into these famous peaks. If Twizel has a distinctly modern, low-rise feel about it, that’s because it was, in fact, only founded in 1969 as part of a greenfield scheme to develop a local hydroelectricity project. This endeavour saw workers pour into the area to build dams and dig canals as well as nearby Lake Ruataniwha. But this army of personnel, of course, needed somewhere to stay and so Twizel was quickly constructed from a series of pre-fab buildings and housing units. Centred on and surrounded by various lots and strips of parkland, this young town today serves as a regional base for those seeking to explore a fabulous local array of natural sights.
Water – along with numerous aquatic attractions – should dominate your Twizel itinerary. At Lake Ruatanwiha, just south of town, travellers will find ample opportunities for swimming, yachting, canoeing and even windsurfing. While Lake Ruatanwiha is a man-made affair, the nearby lakes of Ohau and Pukaki – located to the west and north of Twizel, respectively – have been formed by glacial melt. Hikers tracing the perimeters of these bodies of water will be entranced by their sparkling sapphire depths set among alpine surrounds. For something more sedate, the region’s rivers teem with salmon, making them the perfect place for fly fishing. But if all other activities fail to entice, travellers have only to wait until after dark to be dazzled; thanks to its lack of light pollution, night time in Twizel brings on a stellar spectacular, as all gazes turn to the heavens to enjoy the shimmer of stars in one of the clearest, darkest skies on the planet.
Twizel is most notable as the gateway to New Zealand’s to Southern Alps, a mountainous region that stretches nearly the entire length of the South Island. The town makes a handy base for those who want to take in Aoraki/Mount Cook and the Tasman Glacier, two of the area’s most famous attractions. The former peak is located approximately 35 miles from town just beyond Lake Pukaki, while the latter sight is situated just to the east of the mountain. While it is popular with serious climbers, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park – the land in which both attractions are located – also features numerous walking trails, perfect for those who just want to take in the reserve’s striking flora and fauna. If you’re lucky, you might spot a kea, the world’s only alpine parrot. For a truly unique experience, head to the nearby Tasman Glacier to see bobbing icebergs floating in the azure waters of its terminal lake.
When it comes to eats and accommodation, Twizel keeps things simple. The majority of the town's restaurants, cafés, bars and bakeries are located just off of Tasman Road on Market Place. Here, travellers will find a good mix of options; in addition to simple cafés and bistros serving typical New Zealand and British-style fare, there are also a couple of Thai and pan-Asian options. Those who'd prefer to eschew big-name chain franchises will be pleased to note that Twizel's eateries are mostly one-off independent affairs. In terms of sleeping and accommodation, just as with its restaurants, Twizel's hotels, lodges and motels are concentrated in and around the central Tasman Road/Market Place area. On the outskirts of town, visitors will find a sprinkling of B&Bs as well as a camping ground or two. But if you're after an alternative to Twizel's hotel-style accommodation, head out of town toward Aoraki/Mount Cook for a selection of retreats on the shores of Lake Pukaki.