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Lake Hayes, Queenstown Overview

Located at a mere 15-minute drive from the city of Queenstown and Arrowtown, Lake Hayes is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the busy city. The lake attracts a lot of runners, cyclists, and walkers who use the Lake Hayes Walkway to get some of the best views of the area – ideas which would not be accessible from a car. Of course, you could also spend some time here on a sunny afternoon, or have a picnic lunch here!

Dip your feet in the cool and clear water of the lake, and admire the beautiful reflections of the mountains in the still water, or hire a kayak and go exploring around the serene lake! The Lake Hayes rowing club also makes use of the undisturbed waters for recreational activities. The historic gold mining town of Arrowtown is also just 5 minutes away, and the world class Millbrook golf resort is also close by. Don’t miss out on this breath taking place while you’re in the area!

Read More on Lake Hayes


Lake Hayes is located in the Wakatipu Basin in Central Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand. It is one of the most photographed and picturesque lakes in the country, and is located very close to the tourist hotspot of Queenstown. It is also just a 5 minute drive from the historic gold-mining town of Arrowtown.

The famous town of Glenorchy is also just an hour’s drive away. It is a must-visit place for any nature lover, as the Lake Hayes Walkway forms a part of the world-famous Queenstown Trail, which is frequented by runners and cyclists alike.

Flora and Fauna

Owing to its location, Lake Hayes is home to a large variety of flora and fauna, with a high diversity of species. A part of the area surrounding the lake comes under a Wildlife Management Reserve, and is managed by the Department of Conservation.

It supports a large number of endemic bird species, and is a breeding area for a variety of waterfowl, including Paradise Shelduck, Grey Duck, the New Zealand shoveller, the Marsh Crake and the Australian Coot.

Other waterfowl species include White-faced Heron, White Heron, Black Swan, Grey Teal, Mallard, New Zealand Scaup, Swamp hen/Pukeko, Australian Coot and New Zealand Kingfisher.  It is a recreational fishing spot for brown trout and the European perch. The lake also has a relatively large population of the Great Crested Grebe.

However, recent effects of global warming and climate change have greatly affected the aquatic life, with many local species becoming endangered due to high algal growth. 


The regional Maori tribe had named the lake Te Whaka-ata a Haki-te-kura, after the goddess Haki-te-Kura. It was believed that her face was reflected in the river, which led to the naming of the lake. However, later people started calling it Lake Hayes, after the early Scottish explorer Donald Hay.

He was said to be the first white person to ever see the lake and register it with the government, who misspelled his name is Hayes. Since then, the lake has been called this after the intrepid explorer.

Currently, the lake is also bearing the brunt of climate change, as its water levels rise and algae growth increases exponentially. The marine life has been affected, and so has the amount of fishing in the lake.

How To Reach Lake Hayes

You can use multiple modes of transport to reach Lake Hayes. They are:
  • Car – You can drive down to Lake Hayes from Queenstown, which is 14.5 kilometres, or a 15 minute drive away. It is also 6 kilometres from Arrowtown. There is plenty of parking space available around the lake Hayes area.
  • Taxi – This is a slightly pricey option, but taxi services such as Uber are easily available around this area, especially from Queenstown. They will cost you around $35-$40.
  • Bus – This is the cheapest way to reach Lake Hayes. The Bus 10 of the public transport system of Queenstown stops near Lake Hayes.
  • Cycle – You could also hire a bicycle from Queenstown and cycle down to Lake Hayes. It would be a perfect Sunday morning ride, with the beautiful yet serene views!

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