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 Airport Car Rentals. In fact, I’ve picked up rentals for less than $30 per day in Queenstown!
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 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 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 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 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, 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 offer 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 your 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 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.
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, it’s still considered a hidden gem, make it one of my favorite places near Queenstown!
Thanks so much for reading. If you found this guide to Moke Lake helpful then browse my blog for all the best info on Queenstown. 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!