New Zealand’s lakes are one of the natural wonders of this diminutive country. Whether you hike their shores, fly over them or take a walk to the water for a close up look at New Zealand’s best lakes, you can’t fail to be impressed by the panoramas that unfold in front of you. Here’s our top picks of New Zealand’s lakes with the best sceneries.
New Zealand’s Best Lakes Not To Be Missed
Best for panoramic views
In a league of its own despite stiff competition is Lake Tekapo. A few hours’ drive from both Queenstown and Christchurch, there can be few views as spectacular as that of the Church of the Good Shepherd, perfectly framed by the Southern Alps across the water. The turquoise water gets its colour from mineral deposits fed from the nearby glaciers. It’s as impressive at night, part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve.
Best for reflections
Few things keep a photographer happier than a clear lake on a calm day. Get lucky with the weather and there are plenty of options for scenic lake reflections across New Zealand. Among New Zealand’s best lakes is Lake Matheson which you’ll find near Fox Glacier on South Island. The forest that surrounds it is responsible for the lake’s dark colour as the tannins are leached out during rain showers and washed into the lake. The icing on the cake is the view of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman to the east.
Best for a picnic
Split by a glacial ridge from Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea is famed for its fishing. Fly fishermen come from all over the country to catch its brown trout, salmon and rainbow trout. But you don’t need to pack your rods to chill out. Lake Hawea’s pebbly beaches are just begging to be covered by a picnic blanket. If you need to be active to relax, there’s a great mountain biking trail that loops the lake.
Best for bungee jumpers
Technically, if you’re doing the Taupo bungee, billed as the highest water touch bungee in New Zealand, you’ll be dangled head first into the Waikato River which feeds it rather than the lake itself. Who’s quibbling? You can bungee solo or tandem and it’s up to you how much of a dunking you get. If you’d rather keep your head dry (or at least not completely drenched), there’s always boating, jet skiing, whitewater rafting and more.
Best from the air
Take to the skies above Queenstown and you’ll be treated to splendid views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding countryside. Take a flight in a helicopter or light plane – the perfect way to come back to Queenstown from Milford Sound – or ascend the Skyline gondola in the centre of town. Either way, the views from the sky are incredible.