Lake Pukaki is the largest of three roughly parallel alpine lakes flowing north-south along the northern edge of New Zealand’s South Island’s Mackenzie Basin. It is the most breathtaking lake in all of New Zealand. Here are the best guides about the amazing things to do, the weather, and camping in lake Pukaki.
Why is Lake Pukaki New Zealand’s most beautiful lake?
Without a doubt, Lake Pukaki is New Zealand’s most magnificent glacier lake. It’s a surreal setting that you have to convince yourself is genuine. The surrealistic milky blue color of the ocean is the first thing that catches your eye. I knew as soon as I saw the lake that it would be one of the highlights of our New Zealand round trip.
While the lake’s color is undeniably stunning, the vastness of the landscape surrounding Lake Pukaki is nothing short of breathtaking. The lake itself is one of New Zealand’s largest alpine lakes, and the peaks of Mt Cook National Park are among the highest in the country. There are almost no indications of human occupation, only the stunningly blue lake, golden tussocked hills, and majestic snow-capped mountains.
Lake Pukaki was formed when?
During the previous ice age, a vast glacier stretched from the Southern Alps to the Mackenzie Basin’s northwestern boundary. This ice-age glacier is known as Pukaki Glacier in geology.
Around 18,000 years ago, the temperature began to warm, and the glacier began to recede, forming a valley that Lake Pukaki today fills. The glaciers of Mt Cook National Park and Aoraki are remains of the Pukaki glacier.
Why is Lake Pukaki so turquoise?
The flow from the Tasman and Hooker glaciers feeds the lake, giving it its characteristic turquoise color. Glacier movement grids the granite, producing fine rock particles known as glacial flour. The brilliant turquoise color of the water is caused by these small rock particles scattering sunlight.
Best Things To Do In Lake Pukaki, New Zealand
Most people (tourists), visit the lake from Queenstown, which is probably the most popular and touristy town on South Island.
Enjoy the scenery of Blue Lake (Lake Pukaki’s color)
The name Pukaki refer to this one as the Blue Lake because of its intense color whatever the weather. Because the lake is supplied by glacier waters, it has a vivid blue tint. The water brings glacial flour, which is formed of incredibly tiny rock particles, down the mountain as it flows. You can take some photos and enjoy the fresh air here. Moreover, you can also swim in here and see the view of the Mount Cook from the lake side.
The Tahr Statue
There is a statue of a Tarh outside the centre. This is a life-size bronze statue of a Himalayan Tahr standing upon a boulder and staring into the distance over Lake Pukaki. You can walk around the path near the statue as on a clear day, you may see the Aoraki / Mount Cook summit, which is New Zealand’s highest mountain.
Lake Tekapo and its famous church
There is a lake known as the brother of the Pukaki lake, Lake Tekapo. It is only 30min away by car; however, the price isn’t cheap. Lake Tekapo is an adventurer’s playground by day and a stargazer’s heaven at night.
Besides, the nearby stone-built Church of the Good Shepherd is also beautiful, with views of Mount John and purple lupine fields, and plenty of outdoor activities. If it gets too cold, warm yourself at Tekapo Springs and soak in the spectacular views of land and sky.
What is the best time to visit?
From late September to March is the best time to visit Lake Pukaki. The late spring and summer months provide warm weather to the region, making it enjoyable to walk outside and enjoy the natural visual beauty. If you’re planning a vacation to Lake Pukaki, keep an eye on the weather. When visiting Lake Pukaki, the weather, particularly the amount of sunshine, is critical.
Camping in lake Pukaki
The Lake Pukaki Reserve at the lake’s southern end is my favorite camping. Driving time from Christchurch is roughly 3.5 hours, or 2.5 hours from Queenstown. Driving from either end will take you down long roads, often with impatient traffic, so be cautious.
If you’re going from Queenstown to Tekapo, you’ll pass an information center and a minor turnoff to the left approximately a kilometer later. Using your CamperMate app is the most convenient method to navigate. Continue down the gravel/stone road until you reach the large parking area adjacent to the lake.
It’s tough to put into words how incredible this camping is. Not only do you have a spot right on the lake, but you also get spectacular views of Aoraki Mount Cook, which is only 70 kilometers away!
There is no drinking water here, however, there are two long drop toilets equipped with toilet paper. This is a popular destination in the evening, so arrive early to secure the best spot. For the amazing scenery, ease of access from the main highway and toilet facilities, Lake Pukaki gets 5 stars, so put it on your list camping!