Each November, huge, colourful fields of a distinctive flower begin to emerge along the lake shores, streams, canals and highways of the Mackenzie Region of New Zealand.
This is the start of the Mackenzie lupin season. The lupin flowers range from brilliant pinks and lavenders to cool whites and rich reds and purples. They are a landscape photographer’s dream, especially set against the Mackenzie Country’s turquoise glacier lakes and dramatic skies.
The best time to view lupins in the Mackenzie Region is in the month of December, though the flowers begin to emerge in early November and will bloom into February. Use caution if lupin-spotting from a vehicle because they often grow in areas without safe places to pull off the road – think about safety first!
New Zealand lupins are stunning, but they’re actually a big environmental problem. They are an invasive species that crowds out native plant species and encourages the growth of other weeds by adding nitrogen into the soil, which in itself has a whole list of negative run-on effects.
How did lupins come to live among the golden tussocks of the Mackenzie Basin? The story goes that in the 1950s, high country station families sowed lupin seeds to beautify – and possibly, to stop erosion on – great bare tracts of land along the roads throughout the region.
There’s no denying that the colours of the lupins are dramatic and spectacular. Problem or not, since they’re here, enjoy them!
Places to view lupins in the Mackenzie include: