8 Beautiful Lakes On The South Island Of New Zealand

Lake Tekapo

New Zealand, the country that stole my heart… Now that winter is coming in the Netherlands, spring is in the air on that wonderful other side of the world.

I miss New Zealand so much…

To lift my melancholic mood, I was browsing through my gorgeous New Zealand pictures (not that I am a good photographer, it’s just pretty much impossible to make an ugly picture in New Zealand) and noticed there were quite a lot of lake photos.

When I was looking up how many lakes there are in New Zealand, Wiki quickly provided me with an answer: there are 3820 lakes greater than 0.01 km² in New Zealand.

That certainly is a lot of lakes!

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 this list, to share with you the beauty of some of these lakes and hopefully inspire you to pay them a visit when you are in New Zealand!

8 Beautiful lakes in New Zealand

#1. Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo New Zealand

About: 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: the gorgeous blue color and the surrounding hills and mountains that are completely devoid of any sign of cultivation…

#2. Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki New Zealand

About: 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: 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

Lake Wakatipu New Zealand

About: 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: 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

Moke Lake

About: 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: the remote feeling of Moke Lake. I hiked around the lake and did not meet a single soul…

#5. Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka New Zealand

About: 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: 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

Lake Hawea New Zealand

About: 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: feeling very tiny and insignificant compared to this massive lake…

#7. Lake Paringa

beautiful lakes in new zealand

About: a small lake on the West Coast. There were loads of sand-flies but the view was worth it!

What I love most: waking up early in the morning and seeing the mysterious morning haze burn away by the rising sun…

#8. Lake Matheson

Lake Matheson

About: a pretty lake on the West coast, famous for its mirror reflection of Mount Cook on a wind still day.

What I love most: 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 you find these beautiful lakes?

On the map below you can find the 8 lakes of my list, in the order I visited them. You can also download the map!

Looking for more travel planning resources? Check out the Phenomenal Globe Travel Planning Library!

Read about more wonderful places I visited in New Zealand in my 6 week itinerary or check out my budget breakdown infographic if you are interested in the costs of traveling in New Zealand.

What is your favorite lake in New Zealand?

New Zealand, the most beautiful country in the world and the country that stole my heart. Check out these gorgeous lakes (like Lake Tekapo, Moke Lake and Lake Wakatipu) and you'll understand why! New Zealand, the most beautiful country in the world and the country that stole my heart. Check out these gorgeous lakes (like Lake Tekapo, Moke Lake and Lake Wakatipu) and you'll understand why!

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10 Comments

  1. 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.

    • 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!

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

  2. 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!

    • 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…

  3. 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 🙂

    • 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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