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We found the most beautiful spot to view Moke Lake, but unfortunately, this trail is a bit “off the beaten path” and hard to find. However, in this post, we show you how to get there and other important information to know before you go including general tips about visiting Moke Lake!
One of the best things about moving somewhere is that as you settle into your surroundings you become all so familiar with them. This then allows you to find those local treasures that for a tourist passing by, are almost impossible to find. For me, one of these spots is the “secret” Moke Lake track to the best viewpoint of Moke Lake.
I first stumbled upon this place on Instagram and after reading through the comments on the post, I was still not entirely sure where it was. This prompted me to go out and try to find not only the lookout but the very faint, unsigned trail leading there for myself!
With a little attention to detail I was able to find where the lookout was and the start of the trail that leads there.
For you though, I am going to take the guesswork out of it, and in this post, explain exactly where the trail is and why it’s so breathtakingly beautiful!
Moke Lake Overview
Moke Lake is a smaller size lake located in Closeburn, a suburb of Queenstown. Its traditional Māori names Punamāhaka and Waikāmāhaka translate to mean “twin lakes” which refer to its unique shape.
From Queenstown center, it is only 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) away. Moke Lake is surrounded by freshwater wetland and farmland so sometimes you’ll see sheep running around. It’s a picturesque spot, and people come here to hike, relax, camp, or even get out on the water on a kayak!
Hiking at Moke Lake
At Moke Lake the most popular hike you can do is the Moke Lake Loop Trail. It is a super easy 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) walk around the outside of the lake on flat, well-maintained terrain.
Even taking your time and walking at a slow pace you can finish the loop in about 3 hours or less. Since it is a flat trail at the base of the lake you won’t have a great visibly of the lake as a whole which is why I am here to talk about the secret Moke Lake Viewpoint!
There is a way to see the best view of Moke Lake by going off the beaten path off one of the hills and it only takes around an hour to get there. Keep reading further below for the specific details of how you can get there without getting lost!
Getting to Moke Lake
Moke Lake is situated about a 20-minute drive from Queenstown town center. There are no sightseeing tours I know of that can transport you here so the best way is to rent a car and drive yourself. Our favorite company to book with is DiscoverCars because they have the best rates for rental cars in New Zealand.
To get there, drive out of Queenstown on the Queenstown-Glenorchy road for around 10 minutes. Along this road, you will need to turn right at Moke Lake Road. There is a small sign directing you to Moke Lake however it could be easily missed. Use Google Maps to make sure you don’t miss it!
From here, follow the road until you reach the gravel road. Here there is a sign warning that in winter a 4wd is required. From this sign, Moke Lake is another 10-minute drive.
Although the sign suggests you need a 4wd in winter I found this not to be the case. The road has been well looked after and during my visit in winter, my van made the journey just fine. Use your better judgment and make a decision based on the current road conditions and the type of car that you are driving.
You can find Moke Lake on Google Maps.
Facilities at Moke Lake
At Moke Lake, you will find a campground, toilet facilities, and picnic tables. The walking trails are all signposted.
The Moke Lake Campground is home to 50 nonpowered sites that are on a first come first serve basis. The campsite costs $15 per night for adults, under 18’s are $7.50 and under 5’s are free. This is paid at the campground.
There isn’t anywhere to buy food or drinks so if you plan on going hiking, make sure to bring plenty of water with you!
Dogs are not allowed at Moke Lake.
About the “Secret” Moke Lake Viewpoint
The Moke Lake lookout is a local spot. It’s an unmarked, unsigned trail that leads you up to one of (probably the best) the best viewpoints of Moke Lake. The lookout gives you a full 360-degree panorama of the lake’s unique shape and the surrounding mountains.
It is, in my opinion, the most spectacular way to view Moke Lake and is a much better view than the classic Moke Lake Loop Track.
This lookout is special for many reasons, but to put it simply, it is the breathtaking views that had me wanting to return. It’s just such a cool place so close to Queenstown that is perfectly situated to watch a spectacular sunset!
Another thing that makes this lookout so special is the fact almost no one knows about it so it is likely you will have the mountain all to yourself!
How Long and Difficult is the Trail?
The trail to the lookout takes around 45 – 60 minutes to complete. The trail heads straight up one of the nearby peaks to a small flat clearing.
This hike is in no way easy and the steep terrain does not end until you reach the top. I would only recommend this trail to those keen to take on the steep terrain and would not recommend it for children. The loose rocks and steepness make this a challenging hike and in some parts, a little dangerous.
With that said, lots of readers have reported back to me having completed the hike. Only attempt the hike in good weather conditions and if it has been raining recently, do not attempt it.
Related Read: If you want to experience one of the best thrills in New Zealand read what it’s like to go jet boating in Queenstown!
How to Find the Moke Lake Viewpoint Trail
Finding the trail is likely the hardest part of getting to the lookout. However, below I’m going to lay it all out and use photos to help make finding the trail easy!
To find the trail you will first need to park in the Moke Lake car parking lot. From the parking lot, you must head along the Moke Lake Loop Track which heads to the right along the edge of the lake and crosses a small bridge.
Once over the bridge, continue to follow the marked trail until you hit the end of the farmer’s fence/where the trail turns left. AT THIS POINT YOU MUST TURN RIGHT. This will have you following the farmer’s fenceline walking away from the edge of the lake.
You now must follow this fence line for around two to three hundred meters. Now, this is where you have to keep your eyes sharp.
Once you have walked for around 300 meters you will notice a gate in the farmer’s fence. This gate lets you know you are very close. From the gate, the very faint trail is only around 30 to 40 meters away on your left (opposite the fence line).
As you scan the hillside, you can see a very faint track that leads up the cliff to the top. Once on the trail, it’s easy to follow, just keep hiking until you reach the top!
Since writing this post many people have found the trail. The best way to do it is to walk to the location near the farmer’s gate and look up at the hillside. From here it’s easier to make out the track as you can spot a faint clearing.
Related Read: There are lots of free and cheap things to do in Queenstown you can do to save you some money.
Since writing this blog, it has become clear that many people find the trail very steep and some don’t make it to the top. However, I am not sure if everyone is hiking in the correct spot.
So, instead of just finding the first trail you see, look around and walk further up the farmer’s fence. It becomes less steep the further you walk.
You can see this in the above photo. This photo is a good reference as it shows the second half of the hike that isn’t as steep.
Dangers of the Secret Moke Lake Trail
As this trail is neither marked, signposted, or an official trail I must warn you that it does not come without risk. The trail is very steep in parts and care must be taken on both the way up and down.
This trail is not suited to children or those who do not consider themselves fit hikers. It requires using your hands in some parts and should not be attempted by those not confident in their ability to climb the trail.
Also, hiking up for a sunset (as we did) is a great idea however you must take a flashlight and leave before it gets too dark to spot the trail without your light. This is important as with only a flashlight the trail is even harder to spot.
Related Read: Here are the most instagramable spots in Queenstown you will want to capture!
Other Things to do at Moke Lake
If the Secret Moke Lake Trail isn’t your cup of tea then don’t stress, there are lots of other cool things to do at Moke Lake.
1. Hike the Moke Lake Loop Track
The Moke Lake Loop Track is an easy 2 to 3 hour walking trail that loops around the edge of Moke Lake back to the parking lot. This trail is very well-maintained, flat, and easy.
This trail doesn’t give you the best views but it’s a trail that’s never overcrowded and is very peaceful.
2. The Moonlight Track
This second hike is a little more challenging as it goes up quite steep to a viewpoint. It is called The Moonlight Track. This hike is best done in the summer as ice and snow in the winter can make it slippery and dangerous. The Moonlight Track goes from Moke Lake to Arthurs Point and takes about 4 hours one way.
To find the trail, at Moke Lake campsite walk along the Ben Lomond Station farm road above Moke Creek. Here you will pass an old mining settlement, Sefferstown.
The farm road forks here so take the track on the right. Pass the sign to Ben Lomond Saddle and just after that, turn right onto the Moonlight Track to Arthurs Point.
3. Go Stargazing
Moke Lake is a really good place to see the stars in Queenstown. The mountains around the lake block out a lot of the light pollution from town and on a clear night, you can see thousands of stars.
If you’re sleeping in a campervan or motorhome I highly suggest spending a night in the campground to enjoy the stars!
Related Read: If you’re unfamiliar with freedom camping in New Zealand we’ve got you covered!
4. Go out on Moke Lake with a Kayak
Kayaking on Moke Lake is a great shorter activity you can add to your visit for $71 NZD a person. The conditions of the lake are normally calm so there isn’t much difficulty to kayak in this area. After being provided with the gear and safety briefing you’ll be able to go off on your own at your own pace.
From start to finish this tour lasts 3.5 hours and includes transport from the meeting spot at One Mile Car Park in Queenstown to and back from the lake. Book your Moke Lake Kayaking experience here.
5. Private Photography Tour of Moke Lake and Other Southern Lakes
If you happen to be passionate about photography or have been wanting to improve your skills there is a private photography tour with a professional photographer that goes out to Moke Lake along with several of the other southern lakes.
Being in New Zealand will provide you will all the backdrops you need so don’t wait if you have been considering a photography tour. This Photography Tour of the Southern Lakes is a full-day 9-hour activity that begins with pickup from either Queenstown, Frankton, or Arrowtown.
From there you will begin the day shooting in Queenstown before getting to choose which direction you want to go in next. The “west” option goes to Moke Lake and also includes visits to Glenorchy, Paradise, and Kinloch waterfalls, Lake Wakatipu, Dart and Rees Rivers. You’ll also learn about the history of gold mining, transport, and farming from your guide. You can check rates and book this tour here!
Thanks for reading!
The secret Moke Lake viewpoint is a favorite among a few locals and us. It’s one of the shortest but super rewarding hikes in and around Queenstown. Heading up there for the epic sunset we had is something we both won’t forget and we will definitely return.
Regardless of whether you visit the trail and decide it’s not for you, Moke Lake is well worth a visit and is one of the best things to do in New Zealand.
I hope this guide helps you find your way, but if not, feel free to reach out to us in the comments so we can help clarify anything!
Also if you have hiked the trail successfully or not please come back to this post and leave a comment on your experience. We would really appreciate it if you could share your story and tips with our readers!
If you liked this post then be sure to check out our Queenstown page for all our blogs on the city. Alternatively, if you’re traveling New Zealand then check out our New Zealand page! Or pick from a few related articles below:
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Saturday 18th of January 2020
I'd like to make clear to anyone considering this just how steep the climb is. In fact in poor weather I would consider it dangerous. The faint tracks up - of which there are quite a few - are dusty and covered in loose material. With good footwear in good conditions, most people shouldn't have too much trouble but be aware that you will be using your hands a lot. If the ground is wet, don't consider it. Even in good conditions there are sections where a misplaced foot could result in a long fall, and that's before you even get to the ridge. I'd say that most people would be uncomfortable with the steepness of the climb, and by that I don't mean the physical difficulty, but the general sense that you're on unstable footing and not in a safe situation. Maybe I'm overly cautious but despite having an extensive hiking background, I didn't enjoy it and my girlfriend did most of the descent scooting down on her butt. :D By all means don't let me put anyone off but be aware what you're getting into.
Saturday 18th of January 2020
Thanks for your comment. Did you make it to the top?
Yes, the hike is not for everyone and I hope your comment can help others make the decision to climb to the top or not. I do worry that some people take the wrong path so next time I'm back I may film a guide as to how to find the best way up.
Sorry it wasn't an amazing experience for you!
Saturday 28th of September 2019
Thanks so much for this info. We will be doing this hike on our honeymoon here in a few weeks and hopefully be able to find this secret spot.
One question: In the picture with Bailey at the top, her knees are pointed to the right as she is sitting down. Do you climb up the hill on the left hand side? Just want to make sure Im visualizing it correctly. Thanks so much.
Saturday 28th of September 2019
Congratulations on getting married!
Yes to the left of her is where you climb up. However, it is very far to the left! Don't try to climb up where the cliff is. Keep walking (as you said to the left of Bailey) until it isn't too steep. You can find the trail as I have had many people complete the trail from this blog you just need to really look for it by scanning the hill and looking for the path where there are footprints.
The trail should be getting easier to see as lots more people are climbing it since I wrote this blog haha
let me know if you need any more info and please let me know how you go at finding the trail! Things may have changed since I hiked it so it would be nice to update people!
Sunday 22nd of September 2019
Great tips on this trail! I'll be visiting after 10 days or so and will definitely try this for the sunrise, I'll bring my head torch and I hope I'll be able to locate the trail.
Fingers crossed. Cheers!
Monday 23rd of September 2019
Glad to hear you like the blog. Yes, you should try it. Honestly, with a little bit of care and common sense it's not hard to climb! my recommendation though is to take a quick drive to Moke Lake while its day time and just scope the trail out to make sure you know where to go as the trail will be very hard to spot in the dark (maybe even impossible if you don't know where to look). Or just go at sunset (the sun sets behind the mountains in front of you as opposed to rising behind you in the morning).
Good luck and let me know if you need anything else!
Sunday 15th of September 2019
Daniel, Thanks a lot for your answer. I believe I left questions on another page, perhaps Milford Sound's, but I can't find which one I left question. Could you send the answer to my email and let me know the webpage? Really appreciate. Many Thanks!
Thursday 12th of September 2019
Daniel, When you instructed "be prepared to use your hands as well", does it mean the trail is very steep which I have to use hands to aid? If it is because steep, how steep it is? There is a short lady in the trip, we want to know if it is applicable for her to walk on the path to go to the view point. thanks!
Thursday 12th of September 2019
It is steep at the start and although I didn't need to use my hands some people may need too.
Moke Lake is a beautiful place to visit so anyone not up to the hike can just enjoy the beautiful reflections from the edge of the lake.
You will just need to see the hill and decide as its had to give an exact steepness.