Often overshadowed by the more popular lakes nearby (Wanaka, Te Anau and Wakatipu), Lake Hawea is just as scenic and usually a lot less crowded. The Gladstone Track is the perfect mid-range hike — you’ll see beautiful views of the beach, lake and mountains from above, with plenty of chances to get down to beach level.
The Gladstone Track
The Gladstone Track runs along the shores of Lake Hawea, from the dam on the west side all the way to John’s Creek. It should take around 90-minutes each way. The signs say some of this is also the Lake Hawea Walkway but it’s all the same track so it’s hard to get lost or confused. You can start at a few points along the way, or drive between the various car parks and entry points if you don’t feel like walking. You can also cycle.
We started at the car park on Flora Dora Parade. We then walked back towards the dam before heading to Johns Creek.
The first part of the Track features some awesome views of the lake. There are a couple of viewpoints looking right over the beach — the view reminded me a lot of the Greek Islands! You’ll also see some cute cribs (holiday houses) looking out over the lake.
There are a couple of beaches to check out too. It’s just one long beach really, but Scotts Beach and Kite Surfers Beach have their own car parks and public toilets etc. If you’re not going to do the whole walk I’d recommend to see some of the views from above and then check out one of those two beaches.
Lake Hawea Views
The Track soon leaves behind the relative bustle of Hawea township. The views remain though! You’ll pass by a Frisbee golf course and from there it’s not too far to John’s Creek.
You’re probably wondering if it’s worth walking all the way to Johns Creek! It is, as the views are quite different and the beach at Johns Creek is really nice. You could skip it if you’re in a hurry though (or maybe just drive all the way to the end).
- It should take around 2.5 – 3 hours return to walk the Gladstone Track. If you know someone who can pick you up at the end it’d save you a lot of time!
- There are lots of places you can start the Gladstone Track, and it’s easy to just do small sections of it.
- Hawea is a tiny town just 15 minutes from Wanaka. You’ll pass through on the way to the West Coast (or the Isthmus Peak Track) – but stop for a while if you can spare the time!
Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Check out our South Island itinerary!