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Day trips

Lake Hawea easy short walks and picnic locations, where to go

  • 3 minutes

Wanaka, Otago


Lake Hawea easy short walks and family picnic spots.

Wanaka and Hawea are natural crossroads in the journey to the West Coast. The rivers offer bountiful fly fishing opportunities while the mountains winter sports and active summer adventures. While there are a number of spectacular half day and multiple day tramps for many families hiking does not correlate with fitness levels or the ages of the family group. Here is a selection of easy walks everyone can enjoy immersed in the stunning scenery of the foothills of the Southern Alps. LAKE HAWEA and hospitality is part and parcel of the holiday experience. Don’t give a thought about where to eat, you’re spoilt for choice. Perhaps a hamburger at the beach or fine dining in Queenstown, it’s up to you.


Families can choose to wander around the lake on the Lake Hawea loop. Kidds Bush is where native mountain beech forest reaches the lake shore. The scenery doesn’t come any better than dappled light, blue lake waters, and a place to go kayaking or laze away the day.


Lake Hawea has a rapid drop into deep sections of the lake. Check with the local visitor centre for designated safe swimming areas for families. Even on a warm summer day the lake water temperature can be cool.

Lake Hawea, pebbled beach, shallow water family friendly, Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand
Lake Hawea, pebbled beach, shallow water family friendly, Wanaka, Otago



The track starts at Bremner Bay and follows the shoreline to Penrith Beach, approximately 30 minutes walk, providing great views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Following the road from Penrith Beach, you can join up with the Outlet Track.

Late winter mist rising from Lake Hawea, Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand
Lake Hawea, Wanaka, Otago


There is a formed track beside the Clutha River from the lake outlet to Albert Town. – 1 – 2 hours. This track is suitable for walkers of all ages and it offers good scenic views. It also provides access for fishers to this world-renowned trout fishing area. Fly fishing only from approximately 1km downstream from the outlet. At times the track narrows and care is needed as the shared trail is a popular route for mountain bikes.


Watch the local jet boat tours zip past.

Lake Hawea Loop to Johns Creek is popular with the scenery. The craggy mountains reflecting in the lake waters is a favourite for an impulsive family photo moment.


A flat easy shared walk (cyclists) for families follows the shoreline of the glorious Lake Hawea. From Hāwea dam the track follows the foreshore in front of Lake Hāwea township before travelling through open farmland to Johns Creek.

  • Length: 6.5km
  • Duration: 1 -2 hours
  • Toilets: No
Lake Hawea, Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand
Lake Hawea, Wanaka, South Island
Lake Hawea, Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand
Lake Hawea, Wanaka, South Island


This is a popular family trip beginning at the Kidds Bush picnic and camping area on the road to the Hunter Valley Station, Lake Hawea. Toilet and barbecue facilities are available. There is a small charge for camping to cover costs of maintaining this area. The native forest reaches down to the lakeshore at this scenic spot and there is a short 30 minute walk through the mountain beech forest which starts opposite the picnic area.

The Sawyer Burn track also starts here, this is a moderate climb though the native forest as it opens onto a sub-alpine grass spur with superb views over Lake Hawea, the bush and nearby high country runs. The track then sidles up the valley to the Sawyer Burn Hut just on the bush line.

Time to the Sawyer Burn Hut – 3 Hours.

Lake Hawea is a place of contrasts from the vivid blue lake to jagged mountain ranges. Lake Hawea is an outdoor adventurers’ heaven and a great place to boat, swim, kite surf, kayak, ride, walk or just laze about on the beach.


The Department of Conservation has an excellent brochure on the outdoors with detailed explanations of short walks to multiple day hikes. Remember to always check with relevant authorities about weather conditions, track updates and inform your accommodation host or the visitor centre of your proposed route and departure. Lastly do not forget to tell people you have safely returned.

See attached brochure for more information.

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