Lake Pukaki, another great lake formed by a glacial retreat, is a striking turquoise colour. This is caused by light reflecting off tiny particles of granite ground like flour by glacial movement. The lakes are formed when glaciers push a massive wall of crumbled and crushed rock in front of it. When the glacier begins to retreat, it leaves a wall of rock behind which forms a natural dam.
This area, referred to as the Mackenzie Basin, is named after an early Gaelic speaking shepherd named James Mackenzie. He stole over 1000 sheep from the surrounding district and drove his flock around the vast basin to avoid capture. This area experiences some of the most dramatic weather in the country, from dry scorching hot summers to ferocious alpine blizzards, the region is rife with a rugged beauty that defines the land and the people that call this area home. The people of the basin epitomize the traditional Kiwi ‘you can do’ attitude, they are as determined as the weather that frequents it.