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Nature & Wildlife

Lake Brunner what to see and do

Guide to Lake Brunner, walks, fishing and beautiful pottery

Lake Brunner is a local secret. Deep inky waters are home to wild brown trout. The largest lake on the West Coast is a year round treat. Photographers relish the backdrop of the Southern Alps sharply reflected on the lake’s mirror surface. Snow tipped Southern Alps are the stuff of picture postcard scenery. In summer there are water sports from kayaking, fishing, swimming and hanging around the lake’s shoreline. Lake Brunner’s railway station Moana is a Tranzalpine stop encouraging visitors to disembark and explore the district.

The water is not discoloured or polluted rather the deep ink appearance is due to the high levels of leached tannin from leaves.

Lake Brunner panorama. New Zealand
Lake Brunner panorama


  • Walking trails suitable for all fitness levels and age groups
  • Water sports from SUP, kayaking to jet boats
  • Fishing with a guide or with family and friends
  • Exploring the West Coast haunts of Kumara, Greymouth and nearby Reefton


Lake Brunner Moana, Northern Section, Walks. These walks start near the township of Moana.

1.     LakeSide Walk

A pebble beach offers a lakeside walk with plenty of opportunities for people to watch the buzz of water sports, skip pebbles across the still water and enjoy the magnificent views.

The walk starts or finishes at the Arnold River swing bridge then continues around the lake,

  • Length: 1.2 – 2 km
  • Grade: Flat, uneven beach surface
Moana, Lake Brunner lakeside walk, New Zealand
Moana, Lake Brunner lakeside walk
Velenski Walk, New Zealand @Rankers
Velenski Walk @Rankers

2. Velenski Walk

Lookout point with views of Orangipuku Valley, Mt Te Kinga and the Hohonu Range. The track ascends through regenerating bush to a ridge of original forest. The mature trees of rimu, miro and kahikatea are superb. After the lookout point the track descends through the forest to emerge on Taku Street.

Getting there: The track starts on Ahau Street at the western end of Moana township, just past the motor camp.
Length 600m (one way)
Grade Easy

Start your walk at dusk and keep an eye out for small clusters of glowworms. Remember to carry a torch

3. Rakaitane Track
Trout, Suspension Bridge, Forest and Lake Views
The short easy track includes a stable suspension bridge across the Arnold River (Kotuku Awa). This walk is a botanical treasure for nature lovers with dramatic changes in the flora and fauna over a short period. At first it runs through Kamahi forest and rises to a terrace covered in a regenerating forest of tall, slender kahikatea with dense mats of moss and fern adding to the charm. From a viewpoint at the farthest end, the tranquil Arnold River is seen in a setting of massive miro and rimu trees. The track then loops back through more mature podocarp forest, with groves of tree ferns completing a remarkable botanic succession.

Time: 30 min return
Distance: 1.2 km return
Length 1.2 km
Grade Easy

Rakaitane Track, New Zealand @Wikimedia
Rakaitane Track @Wikimedia

4. Arnold River Dam Walk
Perhaps not a waterfall however there is a very satisfactory flow of water from the dam, creating a contrast between the tranquil natural forest and the industrial hydroelectric station.

The track first passes the hydro electric power station, which at 3.6 megawatts is the smallest contributor to the national grid. Crossing the Arnold River on part of the pipe structure that carries water to the power house, the track branches right. Soon it enters a stand of grand kahikatea miro-rimu forest adjacent to the river.

Arnold Valley and River, New Zealand @Mapio
Arnold Valley and River @Mapio

The track climbs to the top of a terrace that is bordered by a sharp u-bend in the river, and the pipeline taking water to the power house passes underneath. The forest was cut over long ago, but some notable trees remain, including multi-trunked rimu and some good sized totara and rata.
From the upstream side of the terrace there is a dramatic view down over the dam that diverts part of the river flow into the tunnel below the viewpoint. Water birds may be spotted in the small lake above the dam, adding to the abundant birdlife commonly enjoyed along the walk.
The track continues to wind around the terrace before descending to the river crossing point again. Getting there: Start from the Arnold Power Station on Stratford Road, off Arnold Valley Road, about 12 km north of the Moana township.

Length 2.1 km (llop)


5. Carew Falls
Time: 1 hr return
Distance: 2 km return

The track ascends the forest at a steady pace (there are no steps). The Carew Creek waterfall has a year round flow however in the late spring it is spectacular with winter runoff. Enormous water sculptured granite boulders are sun warmed natural seats to relax and take in the views. The lake’s western edges can be viewed. Old pipes seen along the track are from a small hydro scheme that once provided power for the Mitchells Hotel (now Lake Brunner Lodge).
Length 2 km (loop)
Grade Easy
Return via the same track.
Getting there: The track starts on Kumara-Inchbonnie Road, about 300 m east of Lake Brunner Lodge.

Carew Falls, New Zealand @Degies
Carew Falls @Degies

Bain Bay Walk

Check with locals about the lake’s water level as it is impassable with high levels. The boardwalk and beach offer walking tracks. Cross Drake Point at moderate gradients, through dense forest featuring huge trees including kahikatea, matai and rimu, tall tree ferns and tangles of vines. At Bain Bay, the boardwalk gives way to a gravel track running close to the lake edge.

Bain Bay, New Zealand @coastingnz
Bain Bay, New Zealand @coastingnz

The picturesque rotting wharf piles and remains of tramways and other equipment that delivered logs to be towed across the lake to a sawmill at Te Kinga is evocative of the industry which witnessed the loss of mature trees.

In summer the lake is surprisingly warm. Bain Bay is a great swimming spot with the inky water absorbing the sun’s rays ensuring it is not too chilly.

Getting there: Start beside Lake Brunner (Moana) at the end of the short road opposite Lake Brunner Lodge on Kumara-Inchbonnie Road.
Length 7.2 km
Grade Easy although uneven surface

For all day hikes to Mt French and Mt Te Kinga check the Department of Conservation online resource for guidelines, what to do and see.


A year round destination for avid fishing enthusiasts, the lake is described as the place where trout die of old age. The average catch weight is between 1.5 – 2 kg. Although it is deep, fish rise freely across the whole lake and there can be good evening rises particularly where rivers or streams enter the lake.

Trout: All year

Salmon: 1 Oct-30 Apr

For the occasional fishing expedition, enjoy the day with a guide, a boat to local hot spots and a chance to enjoy the views, relax and take in the scenery. Chat to New Zealand Trout Fishing Safaris at Lake Brunner, West Coast. And relax. No need to worry about transport, fishing licence, the correct rods or flys.

Wharf fishing, Moana, Lake Brunner, West Coast winter sunset
Wharf fishing, Moana, Lake Brunner

Brent Beadle is based at Moana on the shores of beautiful Lake Brunner where the trout die of old age. Brent is the longest serving local guide, 22 years in the area and he is a member of the N.Z. Professional Fishing Guides Assn.(NZPFGA). Both Brent’s boats, the ‘Madeline Ruth’ and ‘Sneakuponum’ are surveyed to government requirements and Brent has Department of Conservation concessions to fish in the area.

TranzAlpine Train, New Zealand @greatjourneysofnz
TranzAlpine Train @greatjourneysofnz


Journey in style to your lakeside accommodation and/or pick up a rental car in Greymouth.

The train passes the Arthurs Pass National Park, one of New Zealand’s treasured natural places.

Panoramic windows means guests do not miss any of the spectacular views as they pass by.

ARTISAN CRAFTSKotuku Pottery – Nimmo Photography, Gallery & Store

A superb find for holiday makers is the highly skilled pottery at Kotuku Pottery. Beautiful individual pieces creating beautiful holiday memories. Inspired by nature and worth visiting.

1967 Arnold Valley Road, approximately 6 minutes driving from Moana

Kotuku Pottery, New Zealand @nimmophoto
Kotuku Pottery @nimmophoto

Moana is the original name of the area. Brunner refers to surveyor Thomas Brunner who with the assistance of local Maor guide Kehu was one of the first Europeans to visit the area in 1848. The lake, Moana Kotuku Whakaoho, was a significant area to local Maori with its rich food resources.

Greymouth Weather Forecast and Observations

Private vehicle is ideal. For passengers on the Tranzalpine pick up a rental car at the Greymouth Railway Station. For visitors who disembark at Moana, arrange for your accommodation for a courtesy van.


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