Lake Heron, South Island, New Zealand

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

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Looking for Lake Heron 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 Heron

Located in the Christchurch/Canterbury Region of the South Island of New Zealand, Lake Heron is the largest of the Ashburton lakes at 1556 acres. With a shoreline of 12 miles and an average depth of 118 feet, Lake Heron is one of the premier lakes of the region, which also includes other Ashburton lakes such as Seagull Lake, Manuka Lake, and Lake Emily to the southeast and Maori Lake, Lake Clearwater, Spider Lake, Lake Emma, and Lake Roundabout to the southwest. The South Island is the larger of the two major New Zealand Islands and is often referred to as “The Mainland” even though it only has about a quarter of the total population of New Zealand.

Shaped like a Y, Lake Heron lies in a valley between the Wild Man’s Brother Range and Taylor Range. It is fed by several small streams with its northern end spilling into the Lake Stream, which is a tributary of the Rakaia River. The major tributaries flowing into Lake Heron are Mellish Stream and the Swin River, which are both very remote streams.

Access to the lake is along the western shoreline for about 1.2 miles and along the southern shoreline using four-wheel drive vehicles. Use the Hakatere-Heron Road to continue to the northern end of Lake Heron and the outflow into the Rakaia River. This road can get a bit muddy after heavy rains so check the weather before using the Hakatere-Heron Road. The eastern shore has limited access so it’s best to enter on the west.

Fishing Lake Heron is possible from the shoreline or from a boat but the boat must be anchored. Expect to see brown trout, rainbow trout, and landlocked Quinnat salmon that move into the lake from the Rakaia River to spawn in the Mellish Stream. This beautiful high-country setting offers incredible views of steep banks covered in lush vegetation. When fishing from shore, watch for the overhanging vegetation that may grab your hook or fly. Fishing season is open from the first Saturday in November to April 30.

Activities in the area include hiking, bird watching, skiing, mountain biking, hot air ballooning, hunting, sky diving, snowboarding, and fishing. Methven, a town located south of Lake Heron sits at the base of the Southern Alps and is a base for snow sport enthusiasts. Besides winter sports, Methven offers golf, resort town shops, excellent restaurants, and lodges. Other towns near Lake Heron include Ashburton, Rangiora, and Geraldine. There are limited vacation rentals on Lake Heron and in the surrounding area for daily, weekly, and monthly rentals.

The rugged, mountainous terrain around Lake Heron presents a unique lake experience in a country with working sheep stations in the remote hillsides. Stay on the lake and you’ll have breathtaking scenery, ample fishing opportunities, and contact with wildlife right at your doorstep.

Things to Do at Lake Heron

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Snowboarding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish Species Found at Lake Heron

  • Brown Trout
  • Chinook Salmon
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Find Places to Stay at Lake Heron

If you’re considering a Lake Heron 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 Heron Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lake Heron 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 Heron Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,556 acres

Shoreline Length: 12 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,129 feet

Average Depth: 118 feet

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