A service town to its core, Twizel was built in 1968 as a base for workers constructing a major hydroelectric power plant. When the hydroelectric scheme wrapped up, the residents fought to keep their town intact. Now it's a handy place for tourist overflow in the Aoraki/Mt. Cook area. There’s good fishing to be done in its rivers and those hydro canals (a 45-pound brown trout was landed there in 2013). Birders should check with the visitor center about tours to the kak? aviary to see these striking endangered red-legged birds.

Twizel is close to five good-size boating and leisure lakes and has a couple of good places to eat. Having already passed Tekapo and Pukaki, you'll find Lake Ruataniwha a little tame. Lake Ohau is off the main road, but is another high-country fishing gem. A ski slope, Ohau Snow Fields, opens in July each winter, and a number of walks are in the nearby Ohau Forest Range.

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