Located 35kms down the coast from Blenheim, a large shallow lake has ponds that develop a deepening pink colour during the summer months. This is Lake Grassmere, Salt Lakes.
Seawater, fresh from the Pacific Ocean, is pumped into Lake Grassmere, the water evaporates and the salt concentration rises. As the water continues to evaporate, salt forms as a crust on the bottom of the ponds, the remaining water is pumped out and the dried salt is harvested, crushed, washed and moved by giant conveyor belts to form huge mounds of sparkling white crystals.
The pink to purple colour of the crystallisation ponds is caused by natural microscopic green algae that change to pink in the high salt concentration. The same phenomena gives the Red Sea its name. There are also small pink shrimps in the water that thrive in this salty environment.
They are easily seen from Highway 1, the colour pink catches your eye, that you JUST have to stop and have a look at what you are seeing!
Oak Tree Cottage is situated near the main highway 20 minutes south of Blenheim. It is quite interesting to see inside this old cob house because it gives a little indication how life must have been in pioneer days.
Situated 32 kms south of the town of Blenheim are these tall cones of salt at Lake Grassmere. Pink and white crystallising ponds which are NZ's only evaporative solar salt works and are formed by the almost constant winds combined with many sunny days which occur here.
Tours are available Thursday and Fridays at 1.30pm