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Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown Overview

Nestled amongst some of the most scenic vistas that New Zealand has to offer, Lake Wakatipu is one of the country’s most-visited tourist attractions. This lightning-shaped, inland lake carves through valleys made by glaciers from the surrounding mountains. Queenstown, dubbed ‘The Adventure Capital of the World’, sits on the bend of the lightning bolt. So jump on board the iconic T.S.S Earnslaw or take the Queenstown Scenic Tour and bask in the beauty of this region.

Lake Wakatipu

As a result of the lake’s unusual shape, Lake Wakatipu experiences a sort of ‘tide’ that causes the water levels to rise up and down rhythmically every half an hour. Maori folk tales speak of a massive beast that was burned but left its heart behind, in the depths of the lake, still beating which is responsible for the tide of the lake.

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T.S.S Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise

TSS Earnslaw

Due to Lake Wakatipu’s proximity to Queenstown, there is no dearth of activities to do around Lake Wakatipu. The iconic heritage steamboat, the T.S.S Earnslaw, with its distinctive white hull and bright red smokestacks, takes passengers on trips around the lake daily. It is also the last surviving commercial-passenger coal-powered steamship south of the equator.

Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Tour

Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Cruise

For a more comprehensive experience of Lake Wakatipu, the Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Tour embarks with its passengers on a 2-hour long cruise around the lake. The Queenstown Scenic Tour goes farther into the lake than any other boat-cruise and as a result, reveals to its passengers secluded bays and the teal waters of Bob’s Cove. The friendly and attentive staff, along with the boat’s captain, will regale you with interesting anecdotes about the lake and is sure to keep your interest piqued.

Lakeshore Beaches

Queenstown Bay Beach

The shoreline of Lake Wakatipu, including Queenstown Bay Beach are favourite picnic spots, and even for a swim. However, be aware that the water does get frigid during the winter time. Water sports equipment are available for hire at Queenstown Bay Beach during the summer.


Lake Wakatipu has a few different species of freshwater fish that live in its water, which make for great fishing. It is common to see locals try their luck in fishing for brown trout that feed off the vegetation that grows near the edges of the lake. If the weather is good, another option would be to go fly fishing off a boat further into the lake.

Queenstown Trails

The Queenstown Trails is a collection of walking trails totalling 120 km that meander through the incredible landscape of Queenstown and the surrounding area. The Frankton Track and Kelvin Peninsula Trail is a 16 km walking track of moderate difficulty that skirts around the edge of Lake Wakatipu and is a perfect escape for people looking for a short walk out of town.

Jet-boat ride

Shotover Jet

For a truly exhilarating experience, strap yourself into a jet-boat as it pulls you along at speeds over 90 km/h through the raging rapids of the Shotover and Kawarau rivers, which drain Lake Wakatipu. A thrilling hour-long jet-boat ride that’s sure to get your adrenaline pumping, the KJet is a staple of the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’.



For those looking for a slower pace of things, paddleboarding on Lake Wakatipu is sure to bask in the tranquillity of the experience. A recently-emerged popular pastime amongst locals, Lake Wakatipu, offers the perfect setting to stand-up paddleboard. Paddleboards are available for rent from the lakeshore beaches.

How To Reach Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu

Situated just outside of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu is easily accessible from the city centre. Bus lines 8, 9, and 11 ply the route from Queenstown to Lake Wakatipu. The closest bus stations are Queenstown (Connells/Camp St.) and Steamer Wharf/Crowne Plaza, both a short 5-minute walk away from the lake.

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