There are several ways to experience Lake Wakatipu. Jet boats ferry passengers to 4WD vehicles for off-road adventures in the Southern Alps or Paradise Valley; helicopter tours fly travelers over the lake, Fiordland, and Milford Sound; and fishing charters promise a good catch.
For a more relaxed experience, opt for a cruise aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw or glide along the river on a catamaran while taking in the view. You can also view the lake from Saint Omer Park, Queenstown Gardens, the Queenstown Trail, or one of the many restaurants on the southern shoreline in central Queenstown.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Tour options are available for families with kids and solo adventurers alike.
Be sure to dress in layers, as the wind can pick up suddenly.
Tours range from short, 90-minute excursions to full-day, 8-hour adventures.
Many of the Lake Wakatipu experiences are accessible for wheelchair users; check with your tour provider in advance.
How to Get There
Queenstown is right on the lake, so a trip to this popular city includes easy lake access. Additional access points abound between Kingston on the south end and Glenorchy on the north end. Tours usually include round-trip pickup and drop-off from Queenstown.
When to Get There
The Southern Lakes region is a year-round travel destination, offering phenomenal skiing in winter and hiking in summer. Lake activities are more popular during the warmer months, although the glacier-fed lake remains cold regardless of the season.
Atmospheric pressures cause the water level in the lake to rise and fall about five inches (12 centimeters) every five minutes. This gave rise to the Maori legend that the rise and fall of the water is the heartbeat of a giant who lies slumbering under the water. Modern storytellers chose the lake as a filming location for the Lothlorein scenes in The Lord of the Rings.
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