Just 20 minutes out of Queenstown is a cheap campsite with a stunning loop track. Let Melody transport you to Moke Lake, one of our six relatively unknown hikes on New Zealand’s South Island


Highlights

  • Dramatic mountainous landscape
  • Swimming in the lake
  • Easy walk with amazing scenery
  • Friendly local ducks

The Drive To Moke Lake

Like most of the Queenstown area, the drive to Moke Lake is humbling. Even in our huge camper, we felt tiny as we drove through the impressive mountains. It was our second time there, but Cedric and I were still blown away by the yellow tussocky slopes.

Walking, Swimming & Camping At Moke Lake // Queenstown (NZ), photo by Cedric Tang, Melody tang, hiking, moody, faded, queenstown, NZ

The Moke Lake Loop Track

We’d come back to Moke Lake to walk the loop track we’d started and not finished the summer before. It begins down the far end of the campground, just in front of the main car park. If you like to soak in a good sight, beware that you’ll have a slow start to the hike; the view of the lake is immediately incredible. After crossing a little bridge, you’ll be at just the right angle to see the mountains reflected in the glassy water.

Walking, Swimming & Camping At Moke Lake // Queenstown (NZ), photo by Cedric Tang, Melody tang, hiking, moody, faded, queenstown, NZ, reflection

Once you get going, the track rises and falls but it’s never a strain on the legs. It follows the lake pretty closely, but from higher up, so that you’re always looking down towards the water. In the rugged slopes, some sheep were roaming about and bleating softly as they watched us pass. We were also passed by some mountain bikers having the time of their life!

About halfway, there’s a boardwalk through grassy wetlands and a lovely view of the end of the lake. A little later, we wandered down an off-shoot of the main track, along a bit of land that juts out into the water. Here we could see the campground where we started, as well as the other side of the lake.

The very last leg of the track follows the road back to the campground. A satisfying day’s stroll!

Staying Overnight At Moke Lake Campsite

If you’re like us and fall in love with Moke Lake, you can extend the stay and camp overnight for $15 per adult. You don’t need to book, just bring some cash and register when you arrive. There’s plenty of room to find a quiet spot, although summer and school holidays will be busier.

Walking, Swimming & Camping At Moke Lake // Queenstown (NZ), photo by Cedric Tang, Melody tang, hiking, moody, faded, queenstown, NZ

If it’s warm enough, be courageous and go for a dip! The lake is glassy and fresh – and a good way to clean off if you’re camping.

After a warm day of lazing about and swimming in the lake, we slept and woke up to mist everywhere. The yellowy mountains of yesterday were now velvety brown. It was beautiful to see the landscape in two different moods.

Essential Gear

  • Walking shoes
  • Sun protection
  • Water

Optional Gear

  • Mountain bike
  • Bathers
  • Camping gear

How To Get There

Moke Lake is about 20 minutes out of Queenstown. From Queenstown, follow the Glenorchy-Queenstown road for about 10 minutes before turning right onto Moke Lake Rd. The last 8km of the road is unsealed.

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Swimming
  • Camping

Skill Level

Beginner: the walk is easy-going with only slight ups and downs.

The track is rated intermediate for mountain biking as the path can be narrow and rocky in parts.

Duration / Distance

2 hours walking / 6.1km

 


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