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10 of the Best Things to Do in Lake Hāwea

10 of the Best Things to Do in Lake Hāwea

While planning a trip to Wānaka you’ve probably seen there’s another lake nearby with its own world-class beaches and hiking trails. Only a 15-minute drive from its famous neighbour, Lake Hāwea is far quieter place to spend your time. There are heaps of things to do in Lake Hāwea (it’s the name of the village and the lake) – hopefully, you’ll get some of ideas on what to do, whether you’ve spending the night or visiting for a few hours from Wānaka.

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Hit the Beach

The beach in front of Lake Hāwea township stretches for miles along the southern edge of the lake. There are several different beach areas with car parks, including Scotts Beach, Kitesurfers Beach and Johns Creek Beach.

These are some of the best lake beaches in New Zealand — beautiful spots to relax on hot summer days and scenic walking routes in winter, when you’ll see snow covering the mountains.

Beach Viewpoints

Just back from the beach is an elevated track with awesome views over the lake. Grab some takeaways and find a spot with a nice outlook — just above Scotts Beach is a good one to seek out.

Gladstone Track

The Gladstone Track runs along the southern edge of Lake Hāwea. It should take a couple of hours to walk the whole way (you can also cycle it) to Johns Creek and back, or you can just walk some small sections (car park on Flora Dora St — Kitesurfers Beach would be a good short section to walk).

Lake Hawea Lookout

The road leading to Haast and the West Coast starts close to Lake Hāwea, and one of the best views on that whole drive is a short distance from town. Check out the Lake Hāwea Viewpoint even if you’re not planning on driving any further.

The Road to Haast

The road to Haast takes around two hours and is one of the most beautiful drives in New Zealand. Waterfalls, mountain views and clear blue rivers dominate the scene — try and do it on a sunny day if you can.

READ MORE: The Scenic Drive from Wānaka to Haast

Isthmus Peak

The Isthmus Peak Track is one of the top day walks in New Zealand, taking in stunning views of both Lake Hāwea and Lake Wānaka. We hiked the Isthmus Peak Track at sunrise — you can’t beat these kinds of tracks in the early morning light.

Hiking Isthmus Peak at sunrise

Other Walks in Lake Hāwea

Other Lake Hāwea walks include the riverside track to Albertown and the Breast Hill Track, another full day walk with views of the lake (we’ll be doing this walk soon).

Lake Hāwea Hotel

Lake Hāwea Hotel is kind of famous in these parts and it occasionally gets good bands playing there. There aren’t many options for eating, drinking and sleeping in Lake Hāwea so you’ll probably end up there at some point — I remember accidently going there on new years one time! There are a few other places to eat in town but Wānaka is better for dining and drinking.

Get on the Water

Kitesurfing is popular but I couldn’t find any tours or hire places. You can rent stand-up paddleboards though, which could be fun on a calm day.

Gladstone Track, Lake Hāwea, New Zealand

Golf / Frisbee Golf

There’s a frisbee golf course in town — you’ll see it if you do the whole Gladstone Track. I’ve never played but it looks like fun. Lake Hāwea also has a golf course, as do most towns in New Zealand.

Other Things to do in Lake Hāwea

Lake Hāwea is a popular fishing spot, and you could do a boat trip on the lake or maybe some kayaking. You could also drive around the other side of the lake past Johns Creek.

Stay in Lake Hāwea or visit for a day?

Lake Hāwea is a quieter alternative to Wānaka. There are nowhere near as many hotels and places to eat and drink and it doesn’t really feel like a tourist town (more a local holiday spot). It does get busy over the Christmas / New Year holiday period though, as do most places. So, if you’re keen for somewhere quiet, consider spending the night. Otherwise, stay in Wānaka and go for a few hours — it’s only a 15-minute drive away so it’s easy to visit.

READ MORE: 18 of the Best Things to Do in Wānaka

Are you planning a trip to this beautiful part of New Zealand? Check out our Wānaka itinerary for lots of tips and hidden gems!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.