The 10 Most Beautiful Lakes In New Zealand

Lake Tekapo - Beautiful lakes in New Zealand

In 2015 I was lucky enough to travel around New Zealand by campervan for 6 weeks. It’s still one of the best trips of my life! New Zealand has amazing nature, wonderful wildlife, unique flightless birds and the friendliest people.

New Zealand lakes

Besides mountains, tropical forests, dunes, green rolling hills and volcanoes New Zealand has a lot of lakes. In fact, when I was looking up how many lakes there are in New Zealand, Wiki quickly provided me with a surprising answer: there are about 3820 lakes in New Zealand!

I obviously haven’t seen them all, though I would like to give it a try because all the lakes that I did see were so incredibly beautiful! That is why I created a list of the most beautiful lakes of New Zealand. And it’s my hope this post will inspire you to pay these stunning lakes a visit when you making a trip around New Zealand!


The most beautiful lakes in New Zealand

1. Lake Tekapo

The 10 Most Beautiful Lakes In New Zealand - Lake Tekapo

About Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo was the first lake I visited in New Zealand Lake and also my favorite one! Lake Tekapo has a striking blue color because of the rock flour floating in the water. These small particles refracts the sunlight and give the lake its typical color. The lake is surrounded by mountains, at the southern end of the lake there is a small village also called Lake Tekapo.

When you travel to Lake Tekapo, don’t forget to visit the Church of the Good Shepherd, the most beautifully located church in the world. Also hike the 3-hour Mount John circuit, you’ll have splendid views over Lake Tekapo!

The best thing about Lake Tekapo

The gorgeous blue color and the surrounding mountains which are completely devoid of any sign of cultivation.

2. Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki -Beautiful New Zealand lakes

About Lake Pukaki

Just like Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki is a beautiful blue glacier lake. The lake is fed by the Tasman river and has a surface area over twice the size of Lake Tekapo. There is no town on the Pukaki lake shore, but there is a viewpoint at the southside of the lake. From the viewpoint you can see Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand!

The best thing about Lake Pukaki

My advice: take a (lunch) break at the viewpoint. Cook up a nice meal or brew a cup of coffee and enjoy the wonderful over the lake with impressive Mount Cook in the background under a striking sky.

3. Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu - amazing lakes in New Zealand

About Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu is possibly the most well known lake in New Zealand, though Lake Taupo on the North Island might give it a run for its money. But not without reason: Lake Wakatipu is stunning!

Fun fact: Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand’s longest lake with a length of over 80 kilometers!

Just as famous as Lake Wakatipu is Queenstown, an enviably located town at the shore of this beautiful lake and the foot of the Remarkables. Queenstown is New Zealand’s adventure capital and home to the renowned Fergburger.

The best thing about Lake Wakatipu

Coming from the south you will drive the thrilling Devil’s Staircase road to Queenstown, a patch of road with lots of twists and turns. Along the entire drive you’ll have a fantastic view over the lake and the majestic mountains in the backdrop. But be careful and keep your eyes on the road (most of the time;-).

4. Moke Lake

Moke Lake - Stunning lakes in New Zealand

About Moke Lake

Moke Lake is not very well known, but one of my favorite lakes on this list! I ended up here because there is a wonderful DOC campsite located at the North side of the lake. Getting to the campsite isn’t easy, you have to drive over a very bumpy gravel road for 4 kilometers. The road is only accessible by 4WD cars during winter but in summer a 2WD will do (go slow!).

The best thing about Moke Lake

At Moke Lake you will feel very peaceful and far removed from civilization. My advice: hike around the lake, it’s a lovely 2 hour trail. When I did the hike, I didn’t see a single soul (except my husband). Like I said, very peaceful!

5. Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka - Most Beautiful Lakes In New Zealand

About Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka is a beautiful lake in the center of the South Island and 4th in the list of biggest lakes in New Zealand. When you drive from Wanaka to Haast you will travel along the top half of the lake and you’ll get a feeling of its massive size. And beauty!

The best thing about Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka and its surrounding area regularly appears in international movies, like LOTR, the Hobbit and Mission Impossible 3. The lake is also known for the famous Wanaka tree of which I unfortunately do not have a picture. Check it out on Google if you are curious, I’m sure you’ll recognize it once you see it!

Fun fact: New Zealand has a population of 5 million people but is home to more than 30 million sheep!

6. Lake Hawea

Amazing Lakes in New Zealand - Lake Hawea

About Lake Hawea

Lake Hawea can also be found on the South Island of New Zealand, next to Lake Wanaka. At their closest point the lakes lie just 1000 meters apart! They are separated by a narrow ridge called The Neck and driving on road 6 you cross from Lake Hawea to Lake Wanaka, from one gorgeous lake to the other.

The best thing about Lake Hawea

The drive along the lake is absolutely spectacular! There are also lots of things you can do on or in the lake, such as fishing, swimming and jetboating.

7. Lake Paringa

Lake Paringa New Zealand South Island

About Lake Paringa

Lake Paringa is a small lake on the West Coast of New Zealand. The downside: lots of sand-flies. The upside: it’s gorgeous…

The best thing about Lake Paringa

The DOC campsite next to the lake, imagine stepping out of your campervan and waking up to this view!

8. Lake Matheson

Reflections in Lake Matheson - Mount Cook mirror picture

About Lake Matheson

Lake Matheson is a pretty lake on New Zealand’s wild west coast and is renowned for its mirror reflection of Mount Cook on wind still days. Unfortunately the clouds covered the top of Mount Cook when I visited but it was still a beautiful sight.

The best thing about Lake Matheson

Obviously most people come here for the mirror reflections of Mount Cook and other impressive mountains like Mount Tasman. You’ll have the highest change of taking a mirror picture when you visit early in the morning. But even when you don’t get the perfect shot, Lake Matheson is well worth a visit. The hiking trail around the lake is lovely and there are lots of birds nesting in the area.

9. Lake Mahinãpua

Lake Mahinãpua, New Zealand - The 10 Most Beautiful Lakes In New Zealand

About Lake Mahinãpua

Lake Mahinãpua is a beautiful lake on the west coast of New Zealand, just south of Hokatika. The area around the lake is part of the Mahinapua Scenic Reserve and there are several short hiking tracks. There is also a lovely DOC campsite next to Lake Mahinãpua, perfect to spend a night when you are on a New Zealand road trip!

The best thing about Lake Mahinãpua

If you are lucky and it’s a clear day, you’ll have a beautiful view with the mountains reflecting in the lake…

10. The Emerald Lakes

Emerald Lakes Tongariro Crossing New Zealand

About the Emerald Lakes

The only lake(s) on this list which isn’t located on the South Island! Instead, the Emerald Lakes are found on New Zealand’s North Island along the famous Tongariro Crossing. The Tongariro Crossing is one of the coolest day hikes on the planet, I mean, it’s where LOTR (Lords of the Rings for all people who aren’t fantasy geeks like me;-) was shot! The lakes are actually old craters, filled with melted snow and dissolved minerals which is what gives them their pretty color.

The best thing about the Emerald Lakes

The Tongariro Crossing is over 19 kilometers long and ascends for 800 meters. That is if you don’t include a hike to the top of Mount Ngauruhoe (a.k.a. Mount Doom), which adds another 700 meters to the climb. That’s why one of the best things about the Emerald Lakes is that the Tongariro trail only goes downhill from there, so the hardest part is over once you have arrived at these pretty lakes.


Where to find these beautiful New Zealand lakes?

On the map below you can find all the lakes on this list, I hope you enjoy visiting these amazing places!


Want to read more about my New Zealand road trip? Check out in my 6 week New Zealand itinerary, my New Zealand travel budget post or my guide to renting a campervan in New Zealand.

New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world and has lots of stunning lakes! Check out the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand: Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki, Laka Wakatipu, Moke Lake, Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, Lake Paringa, Matheson, Lake Mahinãpua and The Emerald Lakes. #NewZealand #southisland #northisland New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world and has lots of stunning lakes! Check out the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand: Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki, Laka Wakatipu, Moke Lake, Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, Lake Paringa, Matheson, Lake Mahinãpua and The Emerald Lakes. #NewZealand #southisland #northisland

10 Comments

  1. November 20, 2015 / 4:49 pm

    Wow that’s a lot of lake! Seriously though awesome views. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lotte
      Author
      November 20, 2015 / 5:08 pm

      Haha, yes so many lakes! I’m glad you enjoyed the views:-)

  2. November 22, 2015 / 2:38 pm

    Your photos are stunning! My friend and I were lucky enough to visit New Zealand way back in 1995. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. I can only imagine how many photographs we would have taken if we had a digital camera instead of film.

    • Lotte
      Author
      November 22, 2015 / 2:46 pm

      Thanks you so much Rebecca, that’s really kind of you to say! I am working on improving my photography skills because I don’t find myself very good. But luckily that doesn’t matter much in New Zealand, as the country is so stunning it really is impossible to take an ugly picture;-)

      It must have been great visiting New Zealand in 1995, back when you could still camp everywhere! And luckily you still have your memories even if you don’t have so many pictures:-) Plus, it’s always good to have a reason to go back!

  3. December 11, 2015 / 2:07 am

    Thanks for these! I am planning a visit to New Zealand right now and am feeling so overwhelmed by all there is to see! We don’t do well traveling quickly, so I know I need to zero in on a few places I want to visit and then take my time. There will definitely be a lake or two on that list 🙂

    • Lotte
      Author
      December 11, 2015 / 9:56 am

      With all the overwhelming sites in New Zealand it’s a great idea to take it slow! Have an amazing trip:-)

  4. December 19, 2015 / 11:15 pm

    Loved this post and makes me miss New Zealand – I hadn’t heard of Moke Lake before so will definitely keep that in mind for my next visit. Because yes, there will be one 🙂 only thing I’m not so happy about when it comes to lakes, are the sandflies, they nearly killed me when we were camping at Lake Daniells!

    • Lotte
      Author
      December 19, 2015 / 11:35 pm

      Thanks Anto! Yes, I wrote this post because I miss New Zealand, it’s a form of therapy really;-) Another trip to New Zealand is always a great idea and Moke Lake is really worth a visit. You’ll love the hike around the lake, though you might find it a bit short as such a hardcore hiker:-) And yes, the sandflies…. don’t get me started on those little #$^$&%!

      Enjoy your trip to Tasmania, you could even pop over to NZ since you’re already on the other side of the world…

  5. Stephanie
    October 22, 2016 / 6:24 pm

    Hi! I just discovered this article (thank you pinterest!) and I just wanted to tell you that this article is great! Makes me nostalgic, I loved New Zealand so much 🙂

    • Lotte
      Author
      October 23, 2016 / 2:59 pm

      Thanks Stephanie! The reason for writing the post was me feeling very nostalgic about New Zealand, glad you can relate;-). It’s the most beautiful place in the world!

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