Lake Hawea, South Island, New Zealand

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lake Hawea.

If you’re considering Lake Hawea vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Lake Hawea guide!

Lake Hawea visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: New Zealand - South Island - Central Otago -

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.

Custom Lake Hawea house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

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

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Hawea

The Lake Hawea map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Lake Hawea photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

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

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