Twizel Hoar Frost

A beautiful hoar frost in Twizel, creating a fairy-tale winter scene. New Zealand photography by Laurie Winter.

Twizel is the largest town in the Mackenzie Basin. It was originally built to house hydroelectric scheme workers in the 1960s and 1970s. The town swells in summer with holiday makers and is a central base for all manner of outdoor activities available in the Mackenzie area. Curiously, I find that Twizel often has calm and still weather even when other areas in Mackenzie are gusty. For this reason I often find myself headed to the area for photography when conditions are not great elsewhere. The main lake in Twizel is Lake Ruataniwha, a man-made lake that moves water between the two Ohau power stations. 

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This particular photo was actually a lucky shot. We were driving through the Mackenzie on the way to Mt Cook and saw numerous warning signs advising of extreme winter weather ahead. As we drove toward Twizel, I had my first experience of a hoar frost - a phenomenon that my North Island city girl self had not yet even knew existed! The entire landscape was frozen with thick ice and was completely beautiful. We snapped off a few photos, but in hindsight I wished we had adjusted our plans and explored the photo opportunities more. Realising our mistake, we returned the next day but the frost had broken, and the area was just a huge puddle of swampy ground. In the four years since, I have not yet been able to time a visit to Mackenzie with a hoar frost, even though they occur a few times a year. 

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