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The “Secret” Moke Lake Viewpoint

Last updated : January 25th, 2020

moke lake in Queenstown New Zealand


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We found the most beautiful spot to view Moke Lake from, 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!


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!


Where is Moke Lake, New Zealand?

moke lake is a beautiful place near queenstown
Moke Lake is simply gorgeous!

Moke Lake is situated about a 20-minute drive from Queenstown town center.

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.

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.

You can find Moke Lake on Google Maps and Maps.me.


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.


What is the Moke Lake lookout and why is it so special?

the bridge at moke lake
This bridge is at Moke Lake right next to the car park.

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!


Check out some awesome Queenstown tours…

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How Long and Difficult is the Trail?

hiking up to the moke lake lookout
The hike is short, but it is all uphill!

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.

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How to Find the Moke Lake Viewpoint Trail

map to the moke lake lookout trail
Follow the red line from the car park and you will find the trail! Photo credit: Screenshot from the app MAPE.ME

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 car park, 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.

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Safety Recommendation

Hiking at Moke Lake in New Zealand

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

view of moke lake from above
Bailey enjoying the sunset over Moke Lake!

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.

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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

Walking the Moke Lake Loop Track
Walking the Moke Lake Loop Track

The Moke Lake Loop Track is an easy 3 to 4 hours walking trail that loops around the edge of Moke Lake back to the carpark. 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 the just after that, turn right onto the Moonlight Track to Arthurs Point.

3. Go Stargazing

Stargazing at Moke Lake is a popular thing to do
Stargazing at Moke Lake

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!

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Before you go…

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!

-Daniel

Keep Reading

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!

A few related articles you might like are:

Queenstown Travellers Guide – After living in Queenstown for 7 months we put together this guide to help others visiting Queenstown. It includes info on how to save money on food, tours, and drinks as well as the best things to do!

10 New Zealand Road Trip Itineraries – A layout of 10 New Zealand road trip itineraries to help plan your route. This post includes recommended times so you’re not run off your feet!

Queenstown Hill Walk – Queenstown Hill walk is arguable Queenstown’s best short walk. Its both easy and accessible and offers stunning views! Here’s everything you need to know before you go!

The truth about renting a campervan in New Zealand – Everything you could possibly want to know about renting a campervan in NZ including a few discount codes for our readers!

Hiking Roy’s Peak – This is probably my favorite day hike in New Zealand and it is located only an hour and a bit away from Queenstown! Here’s what you need to know before you go and how to avoid crowds!


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moke lkae viewpoint pinterest

About the Author - destinationlesstravel

We are Dan and Bailey, just your typical thrill-seeking travelers! You will likely find us hiking, scuba diving, catching public transport, or just drinking beer at a hostel.

21 Replies to “The “Secret” Moke Lake Viewpoint”

      • Thank you very much for sharing the secret route. I wonder if a bit more info about the steep trail portion can be described. for example, the height difference for the deepest segment, and how long that segment is? is there any aid, such as rocks, to climb by?

      • From satelite map, I’ve figured the path that goes to the lookout. It does not seem to me any segment is like 90 degree vertical, or a big step that has big difference in height. However, I worry about if
        1. the land (uphill) is loose, is it possible to slip and fall to the edge?
        2. since no trail, are there many plants that pretty tall which are your way that it is hard to move from one step to the other? This is talking about a Oct. 8-10 timeframe.

        • Hey Natural wonder

          The path to the top is steep but the ground isnt that slippery and only low shrubs inhabit the hill.

          There is a faint trail you can visually see at the start of the trail. This section is clear of all shrubs and bushes but is very faint. Once you find the start you can see the trail as you go.

          On the way up go slow and be prepared to use your hands as well. The biggest chance to fall is at the top on the edge but just stay back at least a few meters.

          Let me know if you need any more info!

          Thanks
          Daniel

          • Thank you very much Daniel for your reply!

            May I know the lens that was used for the top photo of this article? It is a wonderful photo!

          • Hey,

            Glad you liked the post.

            The Lens used is a 24mm Nikkor prime lens. Its what I use for almost all my photos.

            Hope that helps

            Thanks
            Daniel

  • 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!

    • Hey,

      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.

      Thanks
      Daniel

  • 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!

  • 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!

    • Hey Chirag!

      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!

      Cheers
      Daniel

      • Thanks Daniel for the instant response!

        It all depends on what time I’ll reach Queenstown – as of now it looks like I’ll reach after the sun has set. Then next day sunset I’ve planned for Bob’s Peak, and the next one I’ll be occupied with something else. I’ll be in Q’twn for two days and this little hike is fitting for one of the Sunrises, although I’ll be coming here at the lake during the night before to shoot some Astro, but of course that time I can’t hike up to check the trail as that is purely stupid.

        I’ll try to come before sunset (on the first day of arrival to Q’twn) but it looks tough as of now. I’ll be coming from Milford Sound, with many stopovers on the way. Fingers crossed…

        Thank you once again!

        Cheers,
        Chirag

        • Hey Chirag

          Thats no worries at all we love to help!

          Ahh, I totally understand! Yes, be sure to shoot Moke Lake at night its such a stunning place! I know some photographers in Queenstown who have shot from that spot at night but they know the trail well.

          Be sure to make it up to Roy’s Peak (Wanaka) for sunrise (you can read our blog and see photos on our website). It’s my favorite sunrise hike and the only way to beat the hundreds of people! If you’re looking for something off the beaten path then Isthmus Peak hike (near Wanaka) is a great option. It’s similar to Roy’s Peak but much less busy!

          On your way from Milford Sound be sure to do the Lake Marian Track! The lake is so beautiful! I have some blogs on the stops from Queenstown to Milford Sound you should check out too. It outlines times you need to see thigs and gives you a great itinerary (you’ll just have to do it in reverse if you’re coming from Milford Sound).

          Anyway good luck on your trip I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time and don’t forget we are always here to help!

          Cheers
          Daniel

          • Hi!

            So, I’m back from my 17 days trip to NZ and yes, I did try this Moke Lake one and I have to say this to everyone that IT IS NOT EASY! I finished about 50% and realized that I’ll not be able to make it back down due to steepness of the slope and slipperiness of the terrain. Yes, you’ll be using both your hands at most times especially while climbing down. I gave up half way and got down. I’m of an average fitness and surely would not recommend unless you do lot of hiking and are ok with climbing slippery surface that is also very steep. Finding this trail is very easy, just follow the steps given in this guide. Just be very (VERY) cautious!

            I did Lake Marian and was awesome, Roy’s Peak is closed in October so I couldn’t do it… Overall, I had great time there in NZ 🙂

          • Hey Chirag

            Thanks so much for the feedback! Your totally correct its not the easiest hike and can be challenging!

            You made the right call deciding to come down if you didn’t feel comfortable!

            Glad the trail is becoming easier to find as more people hike it.

            Super stoked you loved the Lake Marian Track! How was the weather I’d love to see some photos I miss that place so much.

            Ahh the lambing season! Yeah, it closes Roys Peak for around 3 weeks every year sorry you couldn’t do it!

            Glad to hear you had a great time and once again I appreciate the feedback. I can’t see things from everyone’s eyes so it’s great to turn these blogs into a discussion to help all travelers!

            Thanks
            Daniel

  • Hi Daniel,

    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.

    • Hey Joel!

      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!

      Cheers
      Daniel

  • 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. 😀
    By all means don’t let me put anyone off but be aware what you’re getting into.

    • Hey Jason!

      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!

      Thanks
      Daniel

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