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Lake Clearwater / Lake Camp, Hakatere Conservation Park

Lake Clearwater / Lake Camp, Hakatere Conservation Park

This pair of side-by-side lakes sit right next to the main road through the Hakatere Conservation Park and are well worth a look when driving through this stunning area. Lake Clearwater and Lake Camp are two of the many “Ashburton Lakes” and are surrounded by mountains. Lake Clearwater is the more scenic of the two and you can hike some of the loop track for some awesome mountain views. You can also stay at Lake Clearwater — there’s a camping ground right next to the lake and there are dozens of small holiday homes that I’m sure you could rent.

Lake Clearwater

Lake Clearwater is surrounded by mountains and looks beautiful on a clear day. Unfortunately, there was a bit of wind around, so we didn’t get the reflections in the water, but nothing in life is perfect! We decided to go for a little walk along the Lake Clearwater loop track. We didn’t go all the way but it’s worth doing some of it. It felt like we were the only ones for miles and it was nice to see some different angles of this scenic spot. To get to the start of the track (or the place we started at least) drive through the camping ground and park towards the end of the road. It’s one of the smallest towns I’ve ever seen so it shouldn’t be hard to find! Lake Clearwater (the village) is full of holiday homes which you may be able to rent. It’s pretty off the beaten path though and we didn’t see any shops etc, so make sure you want that kind of experience before booking a place.

Lake Camp

This smaller lake sits right next to Lake Clearwater and isn’t quite blessed with the level of looks its neighbour enjoys. It’s still a nice spot though and seems like a good place to do some kayaking. There’s also a beach area that looks perfect for a picnic.

Getting to Lake Clearwater / Lake Camp

Lake Clearwater and Lake Camp are located along Hakatere-Potts Road. The main reason people drive through this remote region is to visit Mount Sunday, a well-known Lord of the Rings filming location. There is so much more to see though, including several more picturesque lakes heaps of mountain views. We did it in winter, so there won’t be nearly as much snow around in summer. From Christchurch it’ll take around two hours to reach Lake Clearwater. The last part is along a well-formed gravel road which shouldn’t pose problems for even the most delicate of cars.

Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Do you need some help? Get in touch and I’ll impart my New Zealand travel wisdom on you!

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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.