Lake Wakatipu is a 'Z' shaped inland lake. It is New Zealand's longest lake at 80km and also one of its deepest. It is fed by the Dart River at Glenorchy in the north and drained by the Kawarau River from the Frankton Arm near Queenstown. Kingston lies at the southern end.
The lake is famous for its scenery and is surrounded by many mountains the most noted of these being The Remarkables which lie along the south-eastern edge and Cecil and Walter Peaks which can be seen across the lake from Queenstown.
One of Queenstown's more unusual sights is the underwater observatory. Here, one can see the trout and salmon in the lake, as well as black teals, just off the docks. Also, be sure to read the storyboards about the Maori legend of Lake Wakatipu.
Several tour operators offer a cruise on Lake Wakatipu, one of the country's most scenic lakes. The TSS Earnslaw is the best known. This old steamboat dates from the late 19th century, and takes vistors to the Walter Peak farm.
But I chose the Million-Dollar Cruise instead. It actually takes you to more sights right on the lake. There are three 90-minute cruises daily, departing from Queenstown's waterfront. The narrator fills you in on a lot of the history, sights, and culture of the town and the lake. For the price, it's the best deal.
Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand longest lake and a perfect landscape for pics while driving to Queenstown, the Lady of the Lake. We stopped several times on our way from Te Anau to Queenstown to look at the mountains (the Southern Alps) reflected into the lake water.
This lake is truly the heart and the life elixir of Queenstown, you will see many ducks in the lake. A cruise on the lake is a refreshing experience so is parking yourself in one of the many restaurants on its coastline for a bite! We spent quite a few evenig just strolling around the lake.
This is an inland lake, it is NZ's longest lake and is around 5kms at it's widest! The remarkables stand guard around it making this lake one of the most photogenic lakes I have seen. We had a good view of the lake from our hotel :)
It is impossible to list all the walks in the area of Lake Wakatipu - and frankly, I have not made a lot of them. But some are easy, and they offer such great views over the lake and the mountains that you should walk a little. Well, or just drive up to Coronet Peak and take the Skyline Gondola up to Bob's Peak if you are too exhausted from all those thrill-seekers' activities in and around Queenstown ;-)
A good way to shorten the Ben Lomond Track (normally 6 to 7 hours) is to take the Gondola to Bob's Peak, then you just have to walk along the saddle which is a gentle walk - but the final climb is very steep. Be prepared!
Some of New Zealand's famous Great Walks start in the Queenstown area, in particular the the Rees-Dart Track (4-5 days) which is a long but not too challenging walk.
There is a possibility to walk a day on the Routeburn Track (which in total would take 3 days). The Greenstone and Caples Track (4-5 days) start near Glenorchy which is an hour's drive from Queenstown. Those two tracks can be combined and each linked to the Routeburn Track.
You find an incredibly long list of walks on the DOC website - and there are even more walks which are not listed there!
The DOC offices:
Queenstown Visitor Centre
Ph. (03) 442 7935
Address: 37 Shotover Street, Queenstown 9300
Glenorchy Visitor Centre
Ph. (03) 442 9937
Address: Cnr Mull & Oban Sts, Glenorchy 9350
I have long resisted to go on this cruise on Lake Wakatipu but finally I have tested it – and it was an eye-opener – but probably not as you might mean ;-))
So… we had been wandering along the lakeside, and I said to my husband, I feel really old here, nothing but young people in their late teens and early twenties hanging out on the shore, probably all adrenaline junkies… Then, standing at the counter of the Earnslaw on the Boardwalk and nearly ready to board, suddenly a herd – and you cannot call it differently – of about one hundred retirees stormed around the corner and boarded the ship. Within seconds we were the youngest people in this specific area of Queenstown LOL (Ok, later we discovered some kids, and a few people younger than us, but still it was a rejuvenating experience ;-)))
The cruise on the historic steamship itself is nice but I would not call it overwhelming. You see the mountains you can also see from the lakeside, the road to Glenorchy, and, of course, from the Gondola. At the turning point you reach Walter Peak Station at the southern shore of Lake Wakatipu. There most passengers leave the ship at lunch and dinner time because they offer BBQ and dining packages, as well as farm excursions. This can only be reached by boat and is a beautiful sight, not at all like a farm you would imagine but more a mansion with turrets, decks and rose garden. These nice premises are called the Colonel’s Homestead.
A nice surprise was that they offer plates of free nibbles and fruit at the counter where you could buy drinks.
Depending on the direction of the wind you might feel the need to look for a seat where you do not get the black coal steam directly into your face and lungs…
But in total we spent one and half relaxing hours on the ship. I would not consider the trip a must-do but nice if you have spare time.
The cruise BTW – one way only, of course - is a great way to get your bicycle or motorbike across the lake and then, from Walter Peak Station, carry on down south towards Te Anau and Milford Sound on a very remote gravel road.
Tour times – Cruise (90 min):
Daily 12noon, 2pm, 4pm; additionally 10am, 6pm and 8pm from 20 October to 19 April.
Cost: NZ$ 45.
Walter Peak Farm Excursions (3.5 hours), including farmyard tour, animal viewing, sheep-shearing etc. with morning or afternoon tea:
Daily 12noon and 2pm, plus 10am from 20 Oct – 19 April.
Cost: NZ$ 65.
Walter Peak Farm and BBQ Excursions (3.5 hours):
Daily 10 am from 20 Oct – 19 April; 12noon from Oct – May and in Sept.
Cost: NZ$ 85.
Walter Peak Horse Treks (3.5 hours; riding alone 40 min):
Daily 10 am from 20 Oct – 19 April; 12 noon and 2pm from 22 Sept – 19 April.
Cost: NZ$ 105.
Walter Peak Heritage Excursions (3.5 hours):
Daily 4pm from 20 Oct – 5 April.
Cost: NZ$ 72.
Walter Peak Evening Dining (4 hours)
Daily 6pm from Oct – May (Cost: NZ$ 110) and from 20 July – Sept (Cost: NZ$ 83).
One way cruise NZ$ 29 plus $20 for motorbike, $ 5 for bicycle
(All prices as Dec. 2008, valid until 20 Sept. 2009)
With my Motel facing Lake Wakitipu, I had the privilege to capture the sunset without going beyond that of my room's porch. I waited in the blitzing cold to take the two shots of the lake - one at 5pm and the other at 5.30pm. Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand's longest lake and third largest. Lake Wakatipu is also renowned for its scenic beauty.
Well, I stayed out there in the chill so that I can take pictures of the sunset, and yes, there was not regrets.
Just before we decide to leave Queenstown, we decide to head to the lovely Lake Wakatipu.
You could hire canoes, bikes at the lake front.
The Ducktour also departs at this pier.
It was a pleasant walk by the lake as we could see where we stayed and the view of the beautiful mountains in the background. The calm water was is reflecting the mountain and sky and it was a beautiful sight.
Lake Wakatipu is the second largest lake in the South Island and Queenstown lies on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Against the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains in the background, Lake Wakatipu is the perfect setting for a romantic steamer cruise on the TSS Earnslaw.
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