Incredible Photos of 16 Most Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand
When living in New Zealand for more than a year, we traveled around an overwhelming number of lakes. Although we haven't seen all of them by no means (there are 3820 lakes in New Zealand!), we've seen enough to compile a list of our 16 favorites (and most beautiful) lakes altogether with incredible photos.
Most Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand
Some of those lakes are easily accessible as you will drive around then, to visit some, you must make some effort and hike for a day or more to enjoy the incredible scenery. When we decided to put together an article about the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand, we did not have to search in our photo archive or think about it too long.
We just started to name lakes which came to our mind one by one, so the list you can see below doesn't rank the lakes because we find it impossible to say which one was truly the most beautiful as all are equally special to us.
#1 LAKE TEKAPO
Why this lake came to our mind as the first? Well, it's easy. We spent five months by its shore as we worked in the hotel in Lake Tekapo Village. Lake Tekapo is in the Canterbury region on South Island and is famous because of its striking blue water, a picturesque Church of the Good Shepherd on the shore and lupin flowers who are in bloom from November to January. Apart from the lake, you can find here one of the clearest skies in New Zealand to do stargazing.
#2 LAKE PUKAKI
One of the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand is Lake Pukaki, and if you drive from Lake Tekapo to Mount Cook National Park, the views will make you stop along the way several times. It's a glacier lake fed by Tasman River, and you will be amazed by reflections of the surrounding mountains on Pukaki's surface. You can know lake Pukaki as Laketown from Lord of the Rings movie.
#3 LAKE WAKATIPU
Probably everyone visiting New Zealand will eventually come across Lake Wakatipu, as one of the most popular towns, Queenstown, the hiking and adrenalin capital, is located on its shore. Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand's longest lake, and you shouldn't miss the thrilling Devil's Staircase Road winding along the road and offering fantastic views over the lake and the jaw-dropping hills and mountains in the backdrop.
#4 LAKE HAWEA
Enjoy the spectacular drive along Lake Hawea, South Island's lake which is maybe a bit overshadowed by nearby Lake Wanaka. Although the lake was artificially raised by 20 meters to store more water, luckily this action didn't take away its beauty.
#5 MATHESON LAKE
Matheson Lake is on the West Coast near famous glaciers Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. Take a leisure morning stroll around the lake, and when clouds allow, you'll be able to see New Zealand's highest mountain, Mt. Cook reflecting on Lake Matheson surface.
#6 LAKE WAIKAREMOANA
Lake Waikaremoana is on the North Island, and it is a popular holiday and recreational area, especially for Kiwis. To reach the lake, you must drive an unsealed road, but the effort is well worth it. To enjoy the lake the most, you can walk three days Great Walk around the lake. To get to and from the track, you must take a water taxi.
#7 LAKE WANAKA
Queenstown's less known brother, town Wanaka (but its popularity is increasing quickly) lies on the shores of the same name lake. Lake Wanaka is surrounded by Southern Alps ranges, and the drive from Queenstown to Wanaka will leave you speechless. We used the town as a gateway to a nearby Mount Aspiring National Park.
#8 EMERALD LAKES
The Emerald Lakes are located on the North Island in Tongariro National Park. To reach lakes, you must walk either the New Zealand's most famous one day hike Tongariro Crossing, or you can do the full loop Tongariro Northern Circuit Track (highly recommended).
The lakes were formed in old craters because they lie in a volcanic area. Water in lakes comes from melted snow, and dissolved minerals give to lakes the incredible greenish color. If you still haven't decided if it is worth it to take the hike to see those lakes, we must assure you, that the lakes are only one of the highlights along the way. If there is one thing in New Zealand you shouldn't miss, it is Tongariro Crossing.
#9 BLUE LAKE
Blue Lake is thought to be the clearest fresh water in the world! The clarity of the water is close to the theoretical clarity of the distilled water, but for those who are same-minded like us, even if it wasn't the truth, we would've been similarly amazed by the beautiful color in the stunning settings. It is a bit tricky to visit Blue Lake as it is located off the tramping trail Travers-Sabine Circuit, which requires 4 to 7 days to complete. We reached it on day five of our walk and were rewarded by spectacular views. The advantage is the lack of people.
#10 LAKE HARRIS
Lake Harris lies on the Routeburn Track, another Great Walk we did on South Island. The subalpine character of the trail, snowy peaks, and the lake create an incredible scenery. You can reach the lake on the day two out of three, but this trail is also popular among light runners so if fit enough, you can make it in one day.
#11 LAKE MARIAN
So you still don't have enough lakes? We felt the same, and before winter started we did a hike to Lake Marian as our last trek in the Fiordland National Park. The track to the lake which is fed by Marian Creek and is located just above the treeline in a hanging valley takes about three hours one way. If you want, you can camp near the lake and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.
#12 LAKE TE ANAU
Lake Te Anau welcomes visitors from all around the world who arrived to appreciate the beauty of Fiordland National Park. Many incredible treks start here or you can take a boat and explore Milford Sound, one of the most stunning places not only in New Zealand, but in the world. It rains a lot in this area, but this phenomenon is what makes Fiordland special because, after heavy rains, many new waterfalls appear everywhere around.
#13 LAKE MANAPOURI
Another beautiful lake is also situated in Fiordland National Park. The lake is New Zealand's second deepest and was formed by a glacier. You will walk along the lake while trekking the Kepler Track (there's a sleeping hut right next to the lake) or you can get there from Manapouri township and make only one a one day walk.
#14 LAKE NGAKORO
A volcanic eruption more than 700 years ago created Lake Ngakoro, a lake on North Island in the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area near Rotorua. An hour and a half long walk will take you to this dark green lake, which we think is visited by many, but is also forgotten quickly because of the colorful small tarns in Wai-O-Tapu park.
#15 TASMAN LAKE
Tasman Lake is in Mount Cook National park and lies in Mount Cook's close proximity. It is a proglacial lake formed by Tasman Glacier, who has significantly receded in the past few years. Many icebergs flow on the lake and you can even take a boat tour to get a closer view.
#16 LAKE ROTOROA
The beautiful alpine lake Lake Rotoroa is within the borders of Nelson Lakes National Park. It is a popular picnic spot, a place where you can take a boat or a spot where many one or multi-day treks start. We opted out for a long one, Travers-Sabine Track and have a pleasant memory on Lake Rotoroa, where we after seven days hiking jumped into the lake and enjoyed the refreshing moment very much.
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