Lakes and waterfalls around New Zealand

New Zealand is a land of beautiful coastline, towering mountains and deep valleys. With all this comes some breathtaking lakes, towering waterfalls and rushing rivers. Here are some of the best that I was lucky enough to visit.

Bowen Falls

The best way to see this 162m high waterfall is by cruise ship as you explore Milford Sound. You can’t really get a sense of how big it is when you’re surrounded by mountains as huge as those of the fjords.

Emerald Lakes

Located along the Tongariro Crossing, it’s a tough hike to get here but it’s well worth it to see the row of three sulphur lakes that live up to their name.

Huka Falls

This extremely powerful waterfall 10 minutes drive from Taupo is one of New Zealand’s most visited natural attractions. 300,000 liters of water pour over this 11m high waterfall every second, enough to fill 72 Olympic sized swimming pools in just one minute. Mind = blown.

Lake Hāwea

You’ll drive past this beautiful, 35km long lake on your way to or from Wanaka as it runs parallel to Lake Wanaka and the highway runs between the two. At their closest point, the lakes are only 1000 meters apart.

Lake Matheson

This lake, on a calm day, is absolutely stunning. It’s a perfect mirror lake reflecting the towering peak of Mount Cook in the background. It’s a short drive from Fox Glacier and an easy walk from the car park with a cafe for lunch with a view.

Lake Rotoroa

One of two lakes located in Nelson Lakes National Park. We stopped here with the Kiwi Experience and people who were brave enough jumped in from the end of the pier. The rest of us fed the ducks.

Lake Taupo

As the largest lake in New Zealand, it’s an impressive sight. From the town of Taupo you can see the peaks of Mount Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe in the distant shores. You can skydive over this lake to take it all in, and on a clear day at 30,000 feet you can also see from the east to the west coast of the north island.

Lake Tekepo

This lake is as blue as the sky, surrounded by snow capped mountains and the lovely stone Church of the Good Shepherd, a great place to stop for a picnic on your way South from Christchurch.

Lake Wakitipu

This is New Zealand’s longest lake at 80km and it’s wrapped around the adrenaline filled junkie paradise that is Queenstown. You’ll recognise the mountains that surround it if you’ve seen the Lord of the Rings movies!

Lake Wanaka

The small town of Wanaka lies along the shores of this lake and it’s a stunning place to spend some time hiking or sailing around the lake, or just relaxing with the mountains as a backdrop.

Taranaki Falls

This fantastic waterfall is located inside the Tongariro National Park and is an easy 20 minute walk from the road, with unforgettable views of Mounts Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. In the winter it freezes from the ground up and you’re able to stand right underneath it on a bank of snow watching the water crash down below you.

Tawhai Falls

Another waterfall located inside the Tongariro National Park, this was the filming location for Gollum’s Pool in The Lord Of The Rings. It’s also a great waterfall for cliff jumping if you can brave the frigid waters and The Kiwi Experience will usually stop here for an hour or so.

Thunder Creek Falls

This 96m tall horsetail waterfall near Wanaka in the South Island is impressive at any time of the year, but especially after the snow has melted and the water is rushing down from the surrounding hills. It’s as loud as it’s name suggests and is easily accessible from the car park, you can go for a paddle and get right to the bottom of it.

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