Lake Hawea, South Island, New Zealand

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Hawea — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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Looking for Lake Hawea cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Lake Hawea

Surrounded by towering mountains in Central Otago of New Zealand’s South Island, Lake Hawea is a lake that was formed by glaciers thousands of years ago. It is in the heart of what is often called a golden country. Central Otago was marked by a powerful gold rush of the 1860s that left a rich history in its passing; golden apricots and vibrant autumns also give the region its descriptive title.

A narrow isthmus called The Neck, separates Lake Hawea from Lake Wanaka. The Hunter River is Lake Hawea’s main tributary and the outflow is the Hawea River, great for kayaking and fishing, which in turn empties into the Clutha River. The lake is part of the Roxburgh hydroelectric project that utilizes the Clutha River; you can find a dam that sits at Lake Hawea’s outlet.

The beauty of Lake Hawea can be fully appreciated from its shores. The Explanade Reserve is on the lakefront, where you can admire the Manuka, flax and petisporum vegetation. Willow and blue gum trees surround enchanting picnic areas and there are camping sites on both the northern and southern shores.

The small town of Lake Hawea sits above the lake on the glacial moraine wall. From there, you can get panoramic views of the lake. In town, tennis, golf, and cricket awaits active limbs. Outside of town, horse riding and hunting offer hours of leisure. The town has plenty of holiday “baches,” trademark New Zealand homes that grew out of the 1950s and were known for their rugged simplicity. The homes became popular over time as romantic getaway options and are the equivalent to the vacation rentals of other vacation locations.

The water of Lake Hawea itself is a beautiful lagoon-like blue and is so clear, making it a popular recreation location for boaters and fishers. The lake harbors landlocked salmon and trout. Windsurfing is also popular. The lake is a stunning 1,286 feet deep, testifying to the cavernous effects of moving glaciers. It lies 1,142 feet above sea level in New Zealand high country, land largely characterized by rolling sheep pastures. Hot summers bring sun bathers to the beaches, and winters send adventurers into the surrounding snow covered mountains to ski and snowboard. Whatever the season, Lake Hawea will have something that meets your satisfaction.

Things to Do at Lake Hawea

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting

Fish Species Found at Lake Hawea

  • Salmon
  • Trout

Find Places to Stay at Lake Hawea

If you’re considering a Lake Hawea lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Lake Hawea Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lake Hawea lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Lake Hawea Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Surface Area: 34,842 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,142 feet

Maximum Depth: 1,286 feet

Lake Area-Population: 1,385

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Shop Lake Hawea Gifts

Custom Lake Tumblers

Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

Custom Lake T Shirt

Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


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