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Lake Hayes Walkway

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Summary of my walk around pretty Lake Hayes

Ok, so I’ll confess right now, I biked around Lake Hayes instead of walking. I had my e-bike with me and just jumped on and rode it. Located 15 mins drive from Queenstown or 5 mins from Arrowtown. The walk is a lovely loop right around the Lake Hayes, about 8 km which would take you 2 to 3 hours if you walked it. Took me 1 hour 30 mins to bike, but I was stopping for lots of photos. The track is easy, nice and wide with lovely views of the lake all the way round. Go in the morning as early as you can before the wind gets up, then you’ll get those stunning photos of a mirror lake.

My quick video of Lake Hayes

Quick Facts

        • Location: Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand
        • Distance: 8 km
        • Time needed: 2 to 3 hour walk
        • Difficulty: Easy
        • Wheelchair Access: No
        • Route: Loop
        • Elevation: 68 m
        • Wet Feet: No
        • Toilets: At Lake Hayes Reserve only
        • Dogs: On a leash only
        • Mobile Coverage: Yes, good
        • Last Updated: March, 2020
  • Track Highlights

    Stunning mirror lake views if you go in the morning. Reflecting the huge mountains of the Wakatipu Basin and the wonderful landscape, this lake offers million dollar photo moments.

  • Track Quality

    Really good, nice wide track for walkers and bikers. There’s a nice boardwalk protecting local wildlife and plants.

  • Hazards

    None really, just watch out for bikers. Can get really cold in winter so take a warm jacket.

  • Transport

    You’ll need to make your own way there with a car. Or take a local scenic tour from Queenstown that includes Lake Hayes.

  • Water

    There is no water on the walk so bring your own.

  • Driving Instructions

    The track has multiple access points: Lake Hayes Pavilion and show grounds on SH6; Bendemeer Bay; North Lake Hayes picnic area; Arrowtown Road and Rutherford Road off Speargrass Flat Road.

  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    Plenty of yummy cafes and restaurants in Queenstown and Arrowtown.

  • Area & Track History

    The lake was named Lake Hayes after an Australian settler with the last name Hay, and was mistakenly changed to “Hayes” over the years. 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. You can often see the mountains and the clouds mirrored on Lake Hayes especially if you go in the morning. Lake Hayes is in the middle of the Queenstown’s 120 km trails, it is easily accessible from Arrowtown, Queenstown, and Gibbston sections. You might like to make a day of it and include the Lake Hayes Walkway into hikes from Gibbston, Arrrowtown and Queenstown.

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

  • Map location of Lake Hayes Walkway

Points of interest along the walk

Hope you enjoy my photos and description of the the whole walk below.

Point 1: Car park and start of the Lake Hayes Walkway

We parked up at the Lake Hayes Pavilion at the show grounds. It’s the easiest place to get onto the track as the entrance is straight off the main highway to Queenstown. But there are multiple places to start including Brendemeer Bay, North Lake Hayes picnic area, the Arrowtown Road and off Speargrass Flat Road. Doesn’t matter which way round you go.

Point 2: Boardwalk and wetlands

There’s a lovely boardwalk along part of the trail to protect the local wildlife, including a substantial number of Australasian Crested Grebe. Unfortunately I didn’t see any of them, I did see a fair amount of ducks, geese and Pukeko. There is quite a bit of rowing that happens on the lake.

Point 3: Views around Lake Hayes

Go early to see the stunning reflection on the mirror lake of the mountains of the Wakatipu Basin and the landscape as you walk around. The Lake Hayes walkway is also good for biking. While there are a few narrow sections, beginner bikers will enjoy the ride.  Lake Hayes is one of the most popular Queenstown bike trails.  This is certainly one of the best walks in Queenstown, I urge you to get out there and walk or bike it.

Point 4: Lake Hayes Reserve

Lake Hayes Reserve is about three quarters of the way round Lake Hayes. It’s a really big picnic area with newish toilets and lots of parking for big vehicles. So long as there isn’t any algae bloom going on, you can happily swim in the lake with the ducks and geese.

Frequently Asked Questions about Lake Hayes Walkway…

It’ll take you 2 to 3 hours to walk around the whole of Lake Hayes. Took me 1 hour 30 mins to bike instead.

The distance between Queenstown and Lake Hayes is 12 km. The road distance is 21.6 km.


Map of all walks & hiking tracks in New Zealand…

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Contact info

Lake Hayes Pavilion Gibbston Highway, Frankton, Lake Hayes, New Zealand

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