Twizel nestles among peaceful lakes, where the broad plain meets the foothills of the Southern Alps. It began as a construction workers’ hostel town for the Upper Waitaki Power Development Scheme. When the project ceased and the workforce left, the town was passed to the Mackenzie County Council. Since then it has been growing in popularity as a holiday centre.
The backdrop of snow-capped mountains inspires awe, but the climate can be harsh, with high summer temperatures and winter hoarfrosts. However the town is a convenient base for day trips into the surrounding countryside. Mt. Cook is just 40 minutes away, and the nearby Ben Ohau Range is a popular heli-skiing venue in winter. Lake Ruataniwha is also an attractive recreation area, where you can camp or picnic and indulge in boating and fishing.
Lake Ohau, 25 km west of town, is well known for its stark beauty, beech forest and ski field. The lake is renowned for its water purity, and for its distinctive glaciated landforms, such as ice-melt depressions and lateral terraces. It is popular for kayaking and trout fishing. The Dobson and Hopkins Rivers that flow into the head of the lake are excellent for fishing.
Twizel’s premier natural attraction is the black stilt colony 3 km out of town. The black stilt is the rarest wading bird in the world, and the captive-breeding centre is attempting to protect the bird from extinction. Access is by guided tour to a hide, where you can quietly observe the birds with binoculars. Only around 120 black stilt survive, and their habitat is the braided river valleys. The male bird exhibits unusually protective behaviour at times, placing his wing around his mate and walking beside her.
The Twizel Market Place shopping centre is the town’s focal point. Here you can arrange guides for local mountain climbing and book scenic flights over Mt. Cook. Heli-biking operates into the nearby Benmore Range.
It is easy to relax in Twizel, do a spot of fishing, boating, mountain climbing or enjoy a scenic flight over Mt. Cook.