Have you ever been to a place so beautiful that you can’t work out why more people don’t know about it? For us that’s the Hakatere Conservation Park / Ashburton Lakes District, a stunning collection of tiny lakes and scenic roads surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It’s a dream to drive through, and there are heaps of places to stop along the way. One quick stop is Lake Emma / Lake Roundabout, a pair of small lakes close to the start of the road through the Hakatere Conservation Park. Stopping at these small lakes is a great way to start your road trip through one of New Zealand’s prettiest mountain areas.
We started off at Lake Emma and were impressed with the deep blue colour of the lake as well as the low-key surrounding scenery. You can’t see many snow-capped giants here but it’s nice all the same. The golden tussocks contrast nicely with the lake and barren hills to create a typical Canterbury High Country scene. We walked a little way around Lake Emma – if you keep going you’ll find an historic hut and (I’m sure) more nice views. You can drive along this track if you have a 4WD.
From Lake Emma we drove back down the road towards the main Hakatere-Potts Road and stopped off at Lake Roundabout. You can’t see it from the side of the road but within a couple of minutes walk it’ll come into view. You can see both lakes from this track and it’s definitely a view worth the detour. There’s not a lot to do at Lake Emma and Lake Roundabout (unless you have a boat) but if you’re into photography or just want to see something nice and not spend much time doing it these lakes are for you!
Getting to Lake Emma / Lake Roundabout
From Christchurch it takes around two hours to reach Lake Emma (Four hours from Dunedin / two hours from Tekapo). You’ll need to head to Mount Somers (a small town) and then along Ashburton Gorge Road, which turns into Hakatere-Potts Road. You’ll see the turnoff for Lake Emma – from the turnoff it’s a short drive to the car park. There is so much to see in the Hakatere Conservation Park / Ashburton Lakes District – some highlights include the short hike up Mount Sunday, the hike to Lake Emily and the stunning views you get from almost every section of the road. Don’t miss this region when road tripping around New Zealand!
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