It was a beautiful warm Autumn day last Sunday so we decided to head to the Sutton Salt Lake near Middlemarch. The hour long easy walk around the Sutton Salt Lake is a great way to enjoy the tranquility and natural history of this stunning landscape.
Sutton Salt Lake is New Zealand’s only inland salt lake, with water about half as salty as seawater. With no outlet, The lake has concentrated salts from surrounding soils as it is repeatedly filled, evaporated and refilled. Nestled amongst the spectacular parallel rock tor ridges of Sutton, with a backdrop of the Rock and Pillar Range, the lake (approximately 8 ha) occupies an enclosed shallow basin in the schist rock landscape.
The area was once part of Gladbrook Station which covered 14,000 hectares. It extended over the Rock and Pillar Range to Patearoa and down the southern side of the Taieri River almost as far as Outram. The station was established in 1872. On seasonal journeys Maori used the high ground of this area as a route to Central Otago, avoiding swamps on the plains.
These aren’t our footprints heading into the lake but they looked like people foot prints. The cloud formation in the background over the Rock and Pillar range is called the Taieri Pet caused when a westerly wind is forced up over the range. The Rock and Pillar range in the background and beyond that the Maniototo.
Drive south of Dunedin to Outram and take SH87, heading towards Middlemarch. Turn left onto Kidds Roadd before you cross the railway line at Sutton. The reserve entrance is about 2.5 km along Kidds Road, on the left.