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Moke Lake is one of Queenstown’s stunning hidden gems. Because of its location 20 minutes outside of Queenstown, and the fact it’s accessed by a dirt road, Moke Lake doesn’t attract that many visitors. In fact, Moke Lake is a very peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown.
As a Queenstown local, I often need a break from the city and Moke Lake is one of my go-to places to watch the sunset and even see the stars. For visitors to Queenstown, it’s also a place to catch stunning mountain reflections and enjoy a peaceful hike or two.
If you’re looking for a great place to explore during your trip to Queenstown or even an interesting stop on your road trip from Queenstown to Glenorchy, then this guide is for you. In it, I explain everything you need to know about visiting Moke Lake as well as the 7 best things to do at Moke Lake.
Moke Lake FAQs
About Moke Lake
Moke Lake is a small lake located 20 minutes from Queenstown. The lake is most famous for the short but sweat Moke Lake Loop Track that follows the shoreline of the lake. The trail is easy and unlike other trails around Queenstown such as Queenstown Hill and the Tiki Trail, it’s far less busy. Other hikes you can access from Moke Lake include the Moonlight Track, the Moke Lake viewpoint, Mt Crichton Loop, and the Lake Dispute Trail.
Moke Lake is also a very popular place for those in campervans and motorhomes who come to the lakes DOC campsite for the night. Camping at the lake is much cheaper than the RV parks in town and also offers a more beautiful location.
However, even for those who don’t want to hike or camp, Moke Lake is still worth checking out with its stunning views. Because the lake is protected from winds in the area, the lake often provides mirror-like reflections of the surrounding mountains.
With cheap camping and epic views, Moke Lake really is one of the most beautiful places to visit around Queenstown.
Getting to Moke Lake
The best way to get to Moke Lake is to rent a car for the day and drive. You can get daily car rentals in Queenstown for really great prices by using websites like Discover Cars. In fact, I’ve picked up rentals for less than $30 per day in Queenstown! If you haven’t driven here before, make sure to read my guide on renting a car in New Zealand ahead of time.
Once you have your car, simply head west out of Queenstown and onto the Queenstown to Glenorchy highway. On this highway drive for around 6 kilometers (3.8 miles) until you see a sign for Moke Lake. Here, turn right onto Moke Lake Road.
Once on Moke Lake Road, you’ll climb a few hills before crossing onto a dirt road. During the winter it’s not recommended to drive this road without a 4wd vehicle. Personally though, I do it all the time without issues. It all depends on the last time they graded the road and how muddy it is. Just assess the road when you get there and decide, most of the time it’s in great shape. Consider carrying snow chains just in case!
You’ll drive on the dirt road for 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) before reaching Moke Lake. On the way, you’ll pass Lake Kirkpatrick on the left. You can stop here and if there is no wind, you’ll get stunning reflections! After, continue on before reaching Moke Lake. Here the road ends and you can park your vehicle and explore.
You can find Moke Lake’s location easily on Google Maps.
7 Things to do at Moke Lake
1. Hike Moke Lake Loop
Moke Lake Loop is the most popular trail to hike at Moke Lake. The loop track follows the lake’s edge and is 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) long. The trail is well maintained and considered easy taking around 2 hours to complete at a slow pace.
In sections, the trail can get muddy during and after a rain so be prepared. In the winter, the trail gets icy but is still manageable without crampons.
Personally, it’s not my favorite hike but it’s perfect for those looking for an easy trail in the Queenstown area with amazing views. Plus, it’s a great free activity in Queenstown and something you can do even with kids.
Because of Moke Lake’s unique location and the surrounding mountains blocking the light from Queenstown, the lake is the perfect place to see the stars. With little light pollution, they truly pop at Moke Lake making them easy to see with the naked eye and breathtaking with a camera.
In the winter in NZ, you can even see the Southern Lights if you’re lucky! I have yet to make it to Moke Lake to catch the Southern Lights, but I’ve spent many nights watching the stars!
Related Read: If you’re visiting Queenstown in winter, learn about all of the best things to do and important winter tips!
3. Go fishing
Moke Lake is a very popular place to go trout fishing. Although fishing from boats is illegal, from the shoreline, you can fly or spinner fish. If you do want to go fishing, you will need a license that you can obtain from Fish and Game New Zealand.
There is a special license for non-residents that even has a daily option to save you money. For equipment rentals, Water Sports World Queenstown rents trout kits for $50 a day and also offers charters.
4. Hike the Moke Lake “Secret” Viewpoint
My favorite thing to do at Moke Lake is to hike to the Moke Lake Secret Viewpoint. This stunning viewpoint is far from easy to get to, but the steep non-official trail takes you to arguably the best view of Moke Lake. I personally think it’s one of the best hikes in and around Queenstown as well as one of the best hikes on New Zealand’s entire South Island!
I personally love visiting at sunset, however, it makes for an interesting climb back down as it gets dark!
Finding the trail is hard and there is a lot to know before you go. I could get into it but this guide covers everything you need to know!
Related Read: Another short but steep hike that’s actually an official trail, is the Lake Alta Track that starts at The Remarkables Ski Field. Unlike the Secret Moke Lake Viewpoint, you won’t have trouble finding the trail and it’s actually maintained!
5. Go kayaking or canoeing
If you have your own kayak or canoe, Moke Lake is the perfect place to go for a relaxing paddle. The calm waters of Moke Lake make kayaking or canoeing a breeze. Even in a blow-up canoe or boat, you could do some exploring – just don’t fall in because the water is freezing!
If you’re without a kayak, don’t worry! There is a kayaking or SUP tour you can join at Moke Lake. The tour includes transport from Queenstown so you don’t even need your own car for this one.
6. Hike from Lake Dispute to Moke Lake and even Mt Crichton
If you’re looking for a longer hiking trail to visit Moke Lake, you can actually start the Lake Dispute Track and continue onto Moke Lake. You’ll need around 6 hours to enjoy the trail and relax at Moke Lake but it’s a great track for those looking for a longer hike.
The trail also connects with Mt Crichton Loop Track so you can actually tackle three trails in one day! For more info and maps of the trails check the DOC website or check out this trail map. Although this sounds complicated, it’s actually really easy to follow once you see it all on a map. Hiking all of these trails is a full-day hike, but if you are a fit hiker you’ll have no problems!
Read more about Mt Crichton Loop Track on my blog all about it!
7. Go mountain biking
On all the trails at and around Moke Lake, you can also mountain bike. The trails rank from grade 2 to 3. Moke Lake Loop is especially popular as one of the best bike trails in Queenstown, but for those looking for a true adventure, the trail from Lake Dispute to Moke Lake above is a great day out!
Regardless of which trail you choose, anyone who loves mountain biking will find themselves in a stunning playground filled with trails!
Camping at Moke Lake
Moke Lake is one of the Department of Conservation campsites around Queenstown. The campsite consists of 50 unpowered sites and the facilities include running water (in the summer), picnic tables, and pit toilets.
The campsite costs $15 NZD per night for adults but rates are cheaper for children. The campsite runs on a first come first serve basis and fees are dropped in an honesty box that’s usually checked by a ranger in the late afternoon and morning.
Unfortunately, there are no fires allowed at Moke Lake so in winter things can get pretty cold. With that said, you’ll practically have the place to yourself so pack your warm clothes and enjoy the peace and quiet!
For more info, check the Department of Conservation website.
Must-Do Activities While in Queenstown
While in Queenstown there are plenty of other activities that will keep you busy… honestly there are so many it’ll be hard to choose which ones to do! Below are some of my favorites.
- Central Otago Wine Tour and Tasting – This is my personal favorite wine tour in Queenstown! It is one of the best values for money, for $215 NZD your tour bus will stop at 4 different boutique wineries in the Otago region that include a wide range of wine samples and a provided gourmet lunch platter. As you hop between wineries you’ll gaze out the window at spectacular views.
- TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise – This scenic and relaxing cruise in Queenstown is an activity great for any afternoon. The ship you will be cruising on is the Historic TSS Earnslaw and you will get to watch crew members add coal to the flames that power the vessel. Take in the mountain ranges and lush green valleys of Otago. You can also upgrade this tour here to include dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
- Queenstown Canyoning Adventure – Climb and jump off waterfalls, rappel, swim, and trek your way down a part of a Queenstown canyon with a qualified guide. This thrilling full-day activity is perfect for those who love adventure and exploration! As long as you aren’t afraid of heights and have a basic swimming ability you won’t need any other skills.
- Day Trip to Milford Sound With Picnic Lunch – This tour will give you the ultimate ability to explore the beauty of Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. Not only will your guide stop at several impressive viewpoints on the way from Queenstown but there is also a cruise in Milford Sound included. This small-group tour goes for $249 NZD a person and I think it’s a really great value for a more personalized experience.
- Extreme Jet Boating – Looking for a thrill? Jet Boating is one of New Zealand’s most unique activities. On the tour out of Queenstown, you’ll be able to zoom up the Shotover River through narrow canyons at high speeds and make 360-degree spins. Trust, me it’s epic!
Where to Stay in Queenstown
Finding the right place to stay in Queenstown can be hard. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of awesome choices, but things book up fast! For that reason, I highly suggest booking your accommodation well in advance.
Honestly, during peak times, any of the best hotels in Queenstown will be fully booked several weeks in advance…you have been warned! To help you plan ahead, here are a few places I personally love and that would make an awesome place to stay in Queenstown.
Kamana Lakehouse – $$$
For a luxurious stay, I highly recommend Kamana Lakehouse. This hotel is located just on the outskirts of town. Although it’s super peaceful, it’s just a 5-minute drive into the center of town. The place overlooks both the lake and the mountains, and the onsite restaurant uses local, seasonal ingredients to create the freshest meals. To top it off, many of the rooms boast lake views, and some even have outdoor baths!
The trick will be snagging this for your dates (it’s a popular place!). Rooms start around the $400 NZD mark, and you can check availability and book online here.
La Quinta Queenstown – $$
If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel, then you should seriously consider La Quinta Queenstown. This beautiful hotel is right by the airport but still very quiet. Plus, the views are amazing (although you won’t find me recommending a place without great views!). The rooms are all studio or one-bedroom apartments, which is really handy if you want to cook or even just have breakfast in your room.
Prices start at $200 NZD and you can book online here.
Absoloot Hostel Queenstown – $
My top choice for budget travelers is the Absoloot Hostel Queenstown. This small hostel has dorm rooms and budget private rooms, and it’s really clean and comfortable. The location is in the heart of Queenstown – the window from the kitchen looks out over Lake Wakatipu!
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. My top choice for a motorhome company is Star RV because they have beautiful motorhomes at affordable prices. You can check prices and availability for Star RV motorhomes online here. Alternatively, you can use Motorhome Republic to search all motorhomes in NZ. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your JUCY or Star RV campervan or motorhome before the end of June 2024! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy! One thing to note is that this code is only valid for travel before Dec 21, 2024.
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad, the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.
If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
Visiting Moke Lake should be on every visitor’s bucket list or Queenstown itinerary. The views, range of amazing things to do, and the fact, that it’s still considered a hidden gem, make it one of my favorite places near Queenstown!
Thanks so much for reading. As a local, I’ve made it my mission to help long and short-term visitors explore this magical place I’m so lucky to call home! If you found this guide to Moke Lake helpful then browse my blog for all the best info on Queenstown. Or check out some of our popular New Zealand blogs below.