8 Beautiful Lakes In New Zealand You Need To Visit

New Zealand scenery is without a doubt some of the best in the world. While the mountains and jagged coastline often hog the limelight, the many gorgeous lakes all across both islands are the real stars of the show. If you’re planning a visit to New Zealand, be sure to include a stop to one of these incredible locations for a chance to see the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand! 

I love lakes. Particularly ones in New Zealand. There is something wonderfully calming about a body of water that has a finite boundary. Knowing that you could explore the circumference and end up back where you began, a little more enlightened by the gentle ripples and changing perspective. I find the experience of sitting by a lake a pensively beautiful one, it’s somewhere I find inspiration while travelling New Zealand – and fortunately there isn’t a lack of choice for picking favourites here! These are what I consider the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand, the ones that you simply must try and visit on your trip. You won’t be disappointed, and you certainly won’t be lacking an amazing photo or two either!

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown
Morning misty mountains of Lake Wakatipu

Lake Taupo

The largest lake in New Zealand by surface area, Lake Taupo is a sight to behold with the Tongariro National Park looming in the distance. With a whole host of adrenaline fuelled sports as well as historical sights such as the Maori rock carvings, the lake itself is a memorable stop for visitors.

Beyond the lake, Taupo is the perfect town to base yourself if you’re hoping to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a popular hike for stunning scenery, challenging climbs, and that unforgettable Kiwi landscape. For a place to unwind after your long hike, the natural hot spring pools allow you to chill out and relax to soothe your sore legs!

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Visit Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo has some of the best sunsets in New Zealand

Lake Rotoiti

If this looks familiar, that could be because this lake view is a favourite for tourist photos. As with many NZ lakes, Lake Rotoiti perfectly positioned between the mountains which offers quite the view. The jetty offers a chance to take a dip in the cool, clear waters – but keep an eye out for eels that might be lurking nearby. They’re perfectly harmless but can give unsuspecting swimmers quite the fright!

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Lake Rotoiti is the perfect spot in New Zealand for a travel to take in beautiful natural scenery
Lake Rotoiti is an idyllic natural spot
Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Jetty jumping at Lake Rotoiti
Jumping for joy at the beautiful Lake Rotoiti

Lake Wanaka

Nestled between the mountains that spread across much of the Otago region, Lake Wanaka has that beachy, family fun feel that makes it such an appealing spot. Beyond That Wanaka Tree that we all recognise there are plenty of activities such as kayaking and swimming in the beautiful lake, and the fascinating Puzzling World just a short drive away from the lakefront makes for a fun and unique day out.  

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Visit That Wanaka Tree in Lake Wanaka for a New Zealand travel must-do
That Wanaka Tree is an icon of Lake Wanaka
Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Lake Wanaka is a New Zealand travel must-do
The edge of Lake Wanaka is a beautiful place to rest

Some of the best views of Lake Wanaka are the elevated ones, particuarly from Roy’s Peak – arguable the most popular day hike in the area. Famed for it’s iconic viewpoint overlooking the vast lake, this is certainly not a view to miss.

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Lake Wanaka is a New Zealand travel must-do
Lake Wanaka is most popularly seen from Roy’s Peak
Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Lake Wanaka is a New Zealand travel must-do
Lake Wanaka and the town are nestled between rugged mountains

Lake Pukaki

The bluest glacial waters fill Lake Pukaki, leaving visitors wondering if they’re in a dreamy fairytale rather than parked up along a country road! Across the still lake is the imposing Aoraki/Mount Cook standing tall above the other mountain peaks, perfectly completing the outstanding view.

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Visiting Lake Pukaki is a New Zealand must-do
A rare cloudless Aoraki/Mount Cook stands across Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki makes the ideal lunch spot to enjoy on a road trip along the winding South Island roads of the Mackenzie Basin, basking in the views of this incredible country. While there’s no town on the lakefront, the nearby areas of Twizel and Tekapo are only a short drive away from the lake.

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Visiting Lake Pukaki is a New Zealand must-do
A hint of the icy blue waters of Lake Pukaki from Peter’s Lookout

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is another example of the pristine natural scenery in New Zealand. The crisp, transparent waters are complemented by both a lakefront sand beach and the stoney waters edge, perfect for a perch to take in those beautiful views and have a refreshing paddle.

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Gorgeous nature at Lake Tekapo
Clearest waters of Lake Tekapo

The town of Tekapo offers more than just this beautiful lake in New Zealand, with short walks around the surrounding Mount John, visitors can even take advantage of the area’s clear skies and low light pollution by star gazing at the Mount John Observatory under the night’s sky.

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Gorgeous nature at Lake Tekapo
Even in cooler seasons Lake Tekapo is a beautiful landscape

Lake Wakatipu

No trip to New Zealand is complete without a visit to the popular and ever lively Queenstown. A town built on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by The Remarkables mountain range, there are a number of walks to take around the lake which all offer the most majestic views over the water. A favourite viewpoint is at the top of Queenstown Hill, with peaceful forest views over the lake you’ll instantly fall in love with New Zealand if you haven’t already.

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown
Queenstown across Lake Wakatipu
Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown
Visit Lake Wakatipu in autumn for vibrant colours

To really get a sense of how vast this beautiful New Zealand lake is, take a boat trip on the historical TSS Earnslaw for a chance to float past magnificent mountains on all sides.

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Boat ride on Lake Wakatipu
A boat ride on Lake Wakatipu is the best way to see this expansive body of water

For the more adventurous types, take the gondola up to Skyline Queenstown for panoramic views over the town and lake, and luge your way down the mountainside or, if you’re really brave, bungee jump off the side!

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Get amazing skyline views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu
The skyline gondola in Queenstown provides wonderful views over Lake Wakatipu

Lake Hāwea

One of the deepest lakes in New Zealand, Lake Hāwea is a marvellous view to enjoy driving between Wanaka and the West Coast. Flanked by dramatic mountains on all sides, the few lookouts along the way won’t feel enough to capture every vantage point of this gorgeous piece of New Zealand landscape.

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Lake Hawea in Central Otago
Stunning views on Lake Hāwea

Included as one of the beautiful lakes in New Zealand due to it’s enormity, it’s best seen from The Neck which is an area of land that provides panoramic views of both Lake Wanaka and Lake Hāwea. Best seen on a clear, still day for maximum wow-factor, this is certainly a lake that epitomises the atmosphere of the South Island of New Zealand.

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Lake Hawea in Central Otago
Lush greenery surrounds Lake Hāwea
Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Lake Hawea in Central Otago
Driving past Lake Hāwea is just one of many wonderful road trip experiences in New Zealand

Hooker Lake

Nestled between mountains, visiting Hooker Lake is part of the hike along the Hooker Valley Track in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Passing Mueller Lake along the way gives amblers a glimpse of the vivid blue waters that await at the end of the track. What makes Hooker Lake so spectacularly special and included as one of the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand is the view of Aoraki/Mount Cook itself, right at the end of the glacial lake.

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is home to gorgeous glacial lakes
Lake Mueller is a small lake on the Hooker Valley Track
Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Hooker Lake in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
Hooker Lake has incredibly vivid colours

With freezing waters and literal ice floating along the lake, you’ll quickly realise just how intense this feat of nature is. Visit in the cooler months and you’ll likely want to catch a few photos and avoid lingering before losing a toe to the cold! In the warm weather however, and particularly on calm days, set up for a picnic with the best view in New Zealand for a lunch to remember.

Beautiful Lakes in New Zealand - Hooker Lake in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
Take in the views (and catch your breath!) at Hooker Lake

 

It’s safe to say that no trip to New Zealand is really complete without visiting one the many lakes around the country. Thanks to there being plenty of options scattered across both islands and being so easily accessible, it’s not hard to stop off at these great natural beauties to capture the essence of the Kiwi landscape.

Have you got a favourite lake in New Zealand? Let me know which one’s you’d include in your choices of beautiful lakes in New Zealand!

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14 Replies to “8 Beautiful Lakes In New Zealand You Need To Visit”

  1. Gorgeous.

    I especially love that view from Roy’s peak down to Lake Wanaka. It’s soooo pretty!

    I think that hike to the lake in the Hooker Valley is the best view-to-effort ratio of any hike I’ve ever done! 😀

    1. It’s amazing isn’t it! I wish I could’ve stayed longer, every angle was better than the last. Yessss definitely agree with you there, certainly is worth the hike!

    1. Thank you so much, that really means a lot! Ah yes you’re not alone there, they’re definitely worth doing in one trip as they’re so far! Hope you can make it there some day 🙂 Wishing you happy and safe travels!

  2. Oh my goodness – how beautiful! I love the unique personality you gave to each lake that makes me want to visit so much more. Thank you for a great post and adding more to my travel bucket list! ❤

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