New Zealand is absolutely breathtaking, with amazing nature and a very limited number of people. In 2015 I was lucky enough to travel around New Zealand (both the North and South island) by campervan for 6 weeks. It’s still one of the best trips of my life!
Fun fact: the population of New Zealand is about 5 million people, however, there are more than 30 million sheep!
Another fun fact: when I was looking up how many lakes there are in New Zealand, Wiki quickly provided me with an answer: there are about 3820 lakes greater in New Zealand!
I obviously haven’t seen all of them, though I would like to give it a try because all the lakes that I saw were so incredibly beautiful! That is why I created a list of the most beautiful lakes of New Zealand. I hope this post will inspire you to pay them a visit when you are in New Zealand!
The 8 most beautiful lakes on the South island of New Zealand
#1. Lake Tekapo
About Lake Tekapo: Lake Tekapo was my first New Zealand Lake and also my favorite! The lake has a striking blue color because of the rock flour floating in the water which refracts the sunlight and is surrounded by mountains. I very much liked hiking the 3-hour Mount John circuit track because of the phenomenal views over the lake.
What I love most about Lake Tekapo: the gorgeous blue color and the surrounding hills and mountains that are completely devoid of any sign of cultivation…
#2. Lake Pukaki
About Lake Pukaki: a beautiful blue glacier lake, with a surface area over twice the size of its neighbor Lake Tekapo. Go to the viewpoint at the south of the lake for the best views of Mount Cook!
What I love most about Lake Pukaki: having lunch, cooked in our campervan, while looking over the lake with impressive Mount Cook in the background under a striking sky.
#3. Lake Wakatipu
About Lake Wakatipu: arguably the most famous lake in New Zealand, though Lake Taupo on the North Island might give it a run for its money. Not without reason: it is gorgeous! I came from the south and drove over the Devil’s Staircase up to Queenstown, with fantastic views over the lake and majestic mountains in the backdrop on my left hand side.
Fun fact: Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand’s longest lake with a length of over 80 kilometers!
What I love most about Lake Wakatipu: gazing over Lake Wakatipu with the Remarkables in the background, thinking what a lucky and blessed person I am to see such a pretty picture…
#4. Moke Lake
About Moke Lake: Moke Lake is not very well known but so pretty nonetheless! I ended up here because of the DOC campsite located at the North side of the lake. After a 30 minute drive over a bumpy gravel road I arrived at the lake surrounded by lovely hills, I felt so peaceful and far removed from civilization.
What I love most about Moke Lake: the remote feeling! I hiked around the lake and did not meet a single soul…
#5. Lake Wanaka
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. Driving the road from Wanaka to Haast took me past the top half of the lake, giving me a feeling of its massive size. And beauty…
What I love most about Lake Wanaka: there was almost no wind on the day I was at Lake Wanaka, which meant the lake perfectly mirrored the surrounding mountains. Exquisite!
#6. Lake Hawea
About Lake Hawea: Lake Hawea lies next to Lake Wanaka and 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…
What I love most about Lake Hawea: feeling very tiny and insignificant compared to this massive lake…
#7. Lake Paringa
About Lake Paringa: a small lake on the West Coast. There were loads of sand-flies but the view was worth it!
What I love most about Lake Paringa: waking up early in the morning and seeing the mysterious morning haze burn away by the rising sun…
#8. Lake Matheson
About Lake Matheson: a pretty lake on the West coast, famous for its mirror reflection of Mount Cook on a wind still day.
What I love most about Lake Matheson: well, this might not be very original or a big surprise… but I loved the mirror reflections of Mount Cook (and other impressive mountains like Mount Tasman) in the lake!
Where can I find these beautiful lakes in New Zealand?
On the map below you can find the 8 lakes of my list, in the order I visited them.
You can download the map below.