“Life is like a mirror. Smile at it, and it smiles back at you.” ~ Unknown.
What I saw when I visited Moke Lake was almost unbelievable and one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had during all my years of travelling (and I’ve been travelling for over 15 years). Can you believe this little gem is just 20 minutes from Queenstown? Oh New Zealand, you’re just full of pleasant surprises!
If you’re planning on visiting Queenstown, here’s why you should definitely include a side trip to Moke Lake while you’re there. Read on for more!
This guide to visiting Moke Lake will cover:
Why visit Moke Lake?
If you’re planning a South Island itinerary, you should add this little-known attraction just outside Queenstown to your trip. It’s a nice diversion from the bustling adrenalin capital of New Zealand’s South Island. Moke Lake will literally blow your mind provided the weather is on your side during your visit. As an added bonus there are a few things to do to make the most of your time there.
Not to mention, there’s a beautiful photo opportunity on the way in before you even reach the carpark:
How to capture reflection perfection at Moke Lake
It’s key to visit Moke Lake on a clear day without wind in order to see Mother Nature’s giant mirror come to life. If you’re fortunate enough to get the much-desired perfect weather, just the view from the carpark will take your breath away!
My travel buddy and I were so lucky to have a cloudless sky and no wind when we visited. I couldn’t believe how clear the water was and how perfect the reflection of the surrounding mountains.
Never had I been anywhere with water so still and air so silent.
How to get to Moke Lake from Queenstown
Moke Lake is an easy 20 minute drive from Queenstown. If you’re travelling with a mid-range budget the most efficient way to get there is to hire a car for the day. In Queenstown’s city centre you’ll find Hertz, Avis, Budget and more along Stanley and Earl Streets. Alternatively, you can book online in advance to avoid disappointment.
To get to Moke Lake from Queenstown, drive west out of the city on the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road for 6 kms. This road is sealed until it becomes gravel at the Moke Lake Road turnoff. Follow the gravel road for about 7 km to the lake. The lake is accessible in a regular hire car albeit a little bumpy, so there’s no need to hire a large 4WD especially for the trip. Don’t let a few bumps put you off though, because the views on a clear day are incredible!
Even if Mother Nature decides not to allow you to witness the mirror that is Moke Lake the walking tracks surrounding her are worth the trip, anyway. Who needs Photoshop when nature looks this good?!
Things to do at Moke Lake
Aside from the obvious for photo-junkies like myself, there are a few things you can do at Moke Lake:
Walk the tracks
There’s a few lovely tracks to enjoy surrounding the lake. I’ll talk about these in more detail further down the page.
Love mountain biking? Around Moke Lake is perfect as you’ll have a stunning backdrop of Ben Lomond, Ben More and Mt Hanley as you ride. There’s more info from 100% Pure New Zealand.
Moke Lake is a popular choice for fishing trout. Keep in mind that the waters are so clear, fish can be easily spooked. Fly and spinner fishing is permitted but fishing from a propelled boat is prohibited.
It’s also possible to canoe or kayak your way around the lake. Make sure you get your photos with the still water beforehand!
Moke Lake has a camping ground with covered picnic tables, toilets and access to running water. During my visit in August we had the place to ourselves so it was very tranquil. Although, it probably isn’t the best place to camp during the winter months as the taps were turned off due to water pipes freezing. You’re also forbidden from starting campfires. More info on camping from the Department of Conservation.
Regardless, it would be a lovely spot to enjoy a relaxing picnic lunch. My travel buddy and I had decided to walk one of the few tracks surrounding the lake instead. I was able to stop at many points along the way to capture these shots. Reflection perfection overload!
I’ll let my photos speak for themselves:
Walking the tracks around Moke Lake
There are a few tracks in varying lengths to choose from. The easiest loop track took us 1½ hours and was mostly an easy walk. There were some steep hills in parts where we needed to catch our breath but nothing extreme. If you happen to go just after rain you can expect muddy sections and some bonus little waterfalls beside the track coming off the mountains above!
You can find more information on the tracks from the Department of Conservation. It is possible to use a pram (buggy) along this track if you have small children. As mentioned there can be some mud in parts so you may need to lift your pram to get through.
TIP: Bring plenty of drinking water, especially during winter because the water pipes at the campsite freeze. If you plan your visit during summer months, bring plenty of insect repellant as the sandflies can be nasty.
Fun Fact about Moke Lake
The BBC’s hit TV drama Top of the Lake (2013) was filmed right here at the lake. This mini-series has won a Golden Globe Award and been nominated for 48 more awards.
Did you know about this little gem just outside Queenstown? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article, please share it to Facebook, follow me on TikTok, Instagram or don’t forget to save it to Pinterest!
Until next time,
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