Hiking the Lake Hauroko Lookout Track, Fiordland National Park
Lake Hauroko is a long way from the other main sights in Fiordland National Park, meaning it sees a fraction of the traffic. It’s a great little off the beaten path spot and is home to an awesome day hike – the Lake Hauroko Lookout Track. The track takes you along the shores of Lake Hauroko and then up to a series of lookouts – it’s a little rough but more than worth it for the beautiful views. Keep reading to find out more!
The Lake Hauroko Lookout Track
The Lake Hauroko Lookout Track starts just to the right of the pier, close to the car park. The track takes you close to the lake-edge for the first kilometre or so and it was very rough when we were there. The water level was really high, and we needed to bash through a bit of bush to get to the proper track. And then it was muddy and wet most of the way! It should take around 3-4 hours to hike the Lake Hauroko Track.
Up Through the Forest
Lake Hauroko is surrounded by native bush, and you’ll have to walk through a fair bit of it before you see the best views. It’s rocky and full of tree roots and muddy patches, but it’s not especially difficult (make sure to wear good shoes though).
You’ll eventually come to some clearings where you’ll see the lake below, but keep walking and you’ll soon get unobstructed views of Lake Hauroko!
The top of the Lake Hauroko Lookout Track actually isn’t the best viewpoint, but you’ll probably want to go there anyway. There’s a big rock blocking some of the view, which looked a little too dangerous to climb and it’s just not quite as good as the clearing about five minutes lower on the track.
That viewpoint is where you’ll get the best photos – we spent about 30 minutes there (including lunch) and it was such a perfect place to be. Lake Hauroko really shines on a sunny day and it’s completely surrounded by native bush. There aren’t many places in New Zealand where you can see scenes like this. It’s very different to the other places we’ve been in Fiordland National Park and is an option for those looking to get off the main tourist route in these parts.
Lake Hauroko Lookout Track Tips
- Wear decent footwear: I don’t mean that new pair of street shoes you just bought – hiking boots or shoes that are comfortable for walking (and ones that you don’t mind getting dirty) are the best options. It’s one of the those tracks where you really have to concentrate on every step – there’s always a rock or tree root to navigate past.
- Beware of the sand flies: There were quite a few down by the lake but they thinned out as we started heading up. Bring some repellent if you have it or limit your time at the lower levels.
- Take your time: The Lake Hauroko Lookout Track should take 3-4 hours to complete, but you’d be best not to rush on a muddy track like this (I assume it’s usually muddy – it rains heaps in Fiordland). We did it in just over 4 hours (with a lunch break at the top) and couldn’t have done it too much faster (although we did see a father and son roar past us on the way down).
Getting to Lake Hauroko
Lake Hauroko isn’t anywhere near Milford Road (where you’ll see most of the main Fiordland National Park sights). It’s around an hour from Te Anau, in the opposite direction to Milford Road. The road is gravel towards the end but it’s in good condition. Apparently logging trucks use the first part of this road so drive carefully. We came from Tuatapere and it took around an hour as well.
Southern Scenic Route
Lake Hauroko is a detour from the Southern Scenic Route, which runs from Dunedin to Queenstown. It’s definitely the long way round, but there’s heaps to see on this scenic drive and it’d be a great idea to do it over a few days. Places to see along the way include the Catlins (waterfalls, beaches, viewpoints — including the one photographed below) and the southern coast, including places like Riverton, Cosy Nook and Colac Bay. I’ll be writing a post about the Southern Scenic Route soon, so stay tuned for that!
Are you road-tripping around the South Island? Check out our two-week itinerary!
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