The Lake Hayes walkway is an easy trek with big rewards.
So, you’ve explored all of Queenstown and you love nature. I mean, you’re visiting New Zealand, and the spectacular scenery is one of the main draws. If you’d like to check out a spot that offers brilliant views without much effort, you’re in luck. Lake Hayes NZ is a beautiful body of water with mountain peaks off in the distance. There’s a loop path around the perimeter of the lake. You don’t need to spend hours of trekking to enjoy these views! Simply drive up to the lake, and the rewarding sights are instantaneous.
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WHERE TO STAY IN QUEENSTOWN: While in Queenstown, we stayed at the Copthorne Hotel and Apartments. You can check out more reviews here. We recommend booking in advance as hotels do book up fast. Feel free to compare prices between hotels as you plan your holiday. To have your own place in Queenstown, browse the available listings on Airbnb.
THINGS TO DO IN QUEENSTOWN: For a list of the best things to do in Queenstown, check out our 1 day Queenstown travel itinerary. If you’re looking for restaurant recommendations, check out my Queenstown vegan guide.
PHOTOS OF LAKE HAYES: Check out our entire photo album of pictures between Queenstown and Wanaka to inspire your trip. You can also purchase prints, housewares, and all sorts of gifts made from any of our photos – just click the “buy” button on any picture.
Lake Hayes Video
If you’d like to see the Lake Hayes walkway in action, check out our video. This video sums up our entire day, including both of our stops between Queenstown and Wanaka. Justin and I walked around Lake Hayes first, and then headed to Arrowtown. You’ll see just how beautiful Lake Hayes looks in the spring!
Lake Hayes Walkway
About a 15 minute drive from Queenstown, you’ll find Lake Hayes and the Lake Hayes walkway. It’s an 8km loop trail and you can choose to tackle the whole thing or parts of the track. In fact, you can continue even farther from the Lake Hayes walkway to the Twin Rivers Trail (part of the Queenstown Trail) or the Countryside Trail towards Arrowtown (also part of the Queenstown Trail).
In this region, the Maori iwi tribe of Kai Tahu named the lake, Te Whaka-ata a Haki-te-kura. Legend states that famed princess Haki-te-kura’s likeness was reflected in the lake. While we didn’t see many lake reflections that day because it was a little too windy, you can often see the mountains and the clouds mirrored on Lake Hayes. The body of water was named Lake Hayes after an Australian settler with the last name Hay, and was mistakenly changed to “Hayes” over the years.
The Lake Hayes trail is one of the best Queenstown walks you can experience for its scenic trails and vistas. There’s a boardwalk along part of the trail to protect the local wildlife, including a substantial number of Australasian crested grebe. While we didn’t see any of them, Justin and I saw a fair amount of ducks and ducklings that were very cute. The Wakatipu Rowing Club is by the lake, and we witnessed rowers practicing their skills on the water.
The Lake Hayes walkway is also a great place to go cycling. While there are a few narrow sections, it’s a great place for beginner bikers to practice and enjoy the ride. Lake Hayes is one of the best Queenstown bike trails, at the heart of 130km of track. Cycling and walking are one of the greatest free things to do in Queenstown because you’ll be able to appreciate the peaceful atmosphere and spectacular natural wonders. This is certainly one of the best walks in Queenstown, so I urge you to get out there and experience this one.
Our Spring Visit
While we didn’t walk the entire trail, the Lake Hayes walkway is one of the best short walks in Queenstown. You don’t have to walk the entire thing if you don’t have the time. We loved visiting this gorgeous region in the springtime. Justin and I walked around Lake Hayes in the second week of November. All of the flowers were starting to bloom. We were happy to soak up the sunshine, though there are lots of shaded areas if you feel a little too hot. I’m sure that Lake Hayes is beautiful all year long, though we were very content with our spring visit.
To get there, take Highway 6 driving northeast out of Queenstown towards Lake Hayes. Near the lake, you’ll see a small parking lot where you can park. It’s right at the Lake Hayes Pavilion (you’ll see this marked on Google Maps). You can also park and enter the trail at the Lake Hayes Recreation Reserve and Bendemeer Bay on Arrowtown-Lake Hayes Rd.
Don’t Have a Car?
If you don’t have your own rental car and you’re staying in Queenstown, don’t worry at all. There are lots of walking and hiking tours that take you to spots just outside of Queenstown, so you can visit Lake Hayes or have a similar experience. Check out this tour that allows you to witness scenic sights, as well as pan for gold in Arrowtown. This tour takes you on a guided hike near Queenstown, most likely to Lake Hayes, along with afternoon tea. Furthermore, this scenic tour goes to Arrowtown, the Kawarau Bridge, and one of the southernmost wineries in the world.
Where to Stay
Whether you’re spending the night in Queenstown or Wanaka, we have our picks for the best mid-range properties for you. These are two hotels and accommodations where we’ve stayed and we can personally vouch for them.
Justin and I stayed at the spacious Copthorne Hotel & Apartments, just a short walk from downtown Queenstown. You’ll enjoy a restful night’s sleep here. This hotel is very quiet and we were never disturbed. The hotel comes with complimentary parking in their underground private lot. Our room also had its own little private courtyard with beautiful views of the lake and mountains. You can also book larger apartments and rooms on upper floors with balconies, though we were perfectly content with our room on the first level.
We adored the location, the large size of the rooms, and the two comfortable nights we spent there. Justin and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel for when you visit Queenstown. It’s the perfect base for venturing out, whether you spend one day in Queenstown or several. Book your stay at the Copthorne Hotel & Apartments or check out hotel reviews by fellow travelers.
Once we arrived in Wanaka, we spent two nights in a yurt accommodation that was a really awesome experience. Oasis Yurt Lodge is a unique accommodation where you can find peace along your hectic journey. These yurts are more luxurious than typical glamping in New Zealand. Every yurt has power and lighting, so you’ll be able to charge and use your electronic devices. The beds are very comfortable for a cozy and restful night’s sleep. There’s a massive shared kitchen where you can prepare all of your own meals, too!
Justin and I wished we could have stayed even longer at Oasis Yurt Lodge. This luxurious yurt combines modern amenities with a peaceful environment, along with spectacular views at the gateway to the Southern Alps. Unwind in style at Oasis Yurt Lodge for marvelous memories that will last a lifetime. If you’re looking for where to stay in Wanaka, this is our #1 recommendation. We can’t wait to someday return to Oasis Yurts in the future. Click here to book your stay at Oasis Yurts or check out more reviews by fellow travelers.
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