South Island’s glacial Lake Hawea sits in a glacial valley a short drive from Lake Wanaka. At the closest point the two lakes are only 1000 metres apart, separated by a ridge of jagged rocks known as the Neck. Dammed by terminal moraine deposited more than 10000 years ago, this 35km long lake is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in the whole of New Zealand. For those looking for things to do at Lake Hawea, activities are centred around the outdoors, the lake and Mount Aspiring National Park.
Things to Do at Lake Hawea
Famous for its brown and rainbow trout, and also for its salmon, Lake Hawea draws fly fishermen from across the country wishing to take advantage of abundant fish stocks in its tranquil setting. All around the lake, there are tiny beaches and grassy banks offering some of the best views for miles around. You’ll need a boat to access the prime spots, which can be summed up as the Neck, the Hunter River delta and Silver Island.
Of course, you don’t have to fish to be able to chill out by the side of the lake. There are other plenty of other things to do at Lake Hawea. Those pebbly beaches are great for a picnic or simply to enjoy the fresh air with your headphones plugged in, providing you with your own personal soundtrack. For those who need to be doing something, then looping the lake on a mountain bike takes a lot of beating. It’s also possible to bike off road to Wanaka. Hikers will love the Isthmus Peak trail, one of several tracks that can be found in the area. Follow the route of the Timaru River and up to Mount Prospect or the more leisurely stroll along the shore to Johns Creek.
Take to the water
If you need to be on the water, then of course there are kayaks and boats to be rented, and once the weather gets warmer, it’s possible to swim in the lake too. The Hawea Whitewater Park has only been open a few years but it’s already immensely popular with locals and visitors alike. This purpose built attraction offers two river waves of differing strengths, suitable for surfers and body boarders to practise tricks, while kayakers and rafters can navigate varying levels of white water. The waves vary according to the precise amount of water being released from the dam, so it’s best to check conditions locally to avoid biting off more than you can chew. The Hawea Wave is free to use and a lot of fun.
A warm welcome awaits
There are plenty of accommodation options and things to do at Lake Hawea which will suit all tastes and budgets. Once you’ve clapped eyes on the captivating scenery, you’ll be glad you’ve opted to stay a while and not simply pass through.