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Sutton Salt Lake

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Business Type: Wetlands conservation

Overview

Sutton Salt Lake is New Zealand's only inland salt lake, with water about half as salty as seawater.

Address: Kidds Road, Sutton, New Zealand Dunedin & Otago

Description

Sutton Salt Lake is New Zealand's only inland salt lake, with water about half as salty as seawater.

With no outlet, Sutton Salt Lake has concentrated salts from surrounding soils as it has repeatedly filled, evaporated and refilled, giving the lake a salinity of about half that of seawater.

Nestled amongst the spectacular parallel rock tor ridges of Sutton, with a backdrop of the Rock and Pillar Range, the lake (approximately eight hectares) occupies an enclosed shallow basin in the schist rock landscape.

Wildlife and flora
Salt tolerant herbs and grasses occupy the lake margins, although in a dry summer the lake dries up completely, only to refill again during the winter. A range of water birds and waders use the lake, feeding on the tiny salt-adapted aquatic animals, including copepods, rotifers and water beetles.

Elsewhere in the 143-hectare scenic reserve, rock tors provide ledge habitat for an undescribed forget-me-not (Myosotis sp.), while numerous small shrublands contain species such as desert broom (Carmichaelia petriei), poataniwha (Melicope simplex), korokia (Corokia cotoneaster) and matagouri (Discaria toumatou). Grasslands abound, comprising both native and exotic species. Natives include common and uncommon speargrasses - the distinctive sharp-leaved aciphyllas.

Location
Sutton Salt Lake is approximately one hour's drive inland from Dunedin, Otago, on the east coast of the South Island.

Tracks and walks
Lake with lone kowhai in foregroundA 3.5 km self-guided loop walk to the lake and back is an easy way to enjoy the tranquility and natural history of this stunning landscape. This track is not wheelchair accessible. It takes 40-60 min to walk.

Source: Department of Conservation 

Locations

Drive south of Dunedin to Mosgiel, then Outram and take SH 87, heading towards Middlemarch. Turn left onto Kidds Road before you cross the railway line at Sutton. The reserve entrance is about 2.5 km along Kidds Road, on the left.

Photo Gallery

Sutton Salt Lake

Map Location