Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Moke Lake- Queenstown


Our next destination is just a short 25kms away but to get there we have to weave our way through the narrow streets and busy traffic of downtown Queenstown. Luckily it’s Sunday and the traffic isn’t so bad but there are still plenty of pedestrians stepping out when you least expect them to.

We’re heading to another small lake, this one is so far removed from Lake Hayes that it’s hard to believe they are in such close proximity. We turn off the Glenorchy road 12kms south of Queenstown leaving Lake Wakatipu behind and heading literally straight up into the mountains. It’s a tough haul for the Ranger and David wishes he’d been able to engage low-range before we’d made the turn. Slowly but surely we crawl up the switchbacks until the road levels out and we approach a gravel road and cattle stop.

The road disappears down a long valley, we stop a few times to let cars coming from the other direction past on the single lane track…

I take some more autumn colours at another cattlestop….

…and then a small lake comes into view. This is Lake Kirkpatrick a picturesque wildlife management reserve but it’s not where we’re heading.

We continue on a short distance and follow the narrow road around the flank of the mountain with a drop down to the lake below, hoping we don’t meet anymore cars as there’s nowhere to pull over here and it’ll be them that will be backing up.

We’re heading to the large DOC campground at Moke Lake (as in smoke). It feels like it’s miles from civilization and yet it’s just 20km from the bustle of Queenstown. Moke Lake is a very popular place over summer- according to the DOC ranger, there were 300 people camped here over the Christmas/New Year holiday. There are a number of walking & mountainbike tracks in the area and fishing and kayaking available on the lake (no powered craft are allowed though). 

Ben Lomond Station borders the lake and they have a popular horse trekking business right on the camp boundary. I might just have to check that out. There's also a 4-5hr walk through the station that ends up at Arthurs Point back in Queenstown.

We found ourselves a very good spot right beside the water’s edge, well as near as the bollards would allow us.

The facilities are great and look to be fairly new. The kitchen shelter reminds me of the old shelter at
the campground at Titirangi in the Marlborough Sounds which also had a stock gate to keep the sheep out.

I wandered around camp taking a few photos and checking out the available walks- rain is forecast for the next few days so I’m not so sure we’re going to be able to do any of them.

There’s a loop walk around the lake that take 2-3 hours, I cross over the outlet stream checking the small raupo swamp out for birds. I can hear a few different ones but only spot a female tomtit and then a grey warbler in the matagouri on the way back through the camp.

There’s us all on our lonesome across the way,  four or five others campers arrived during the evening but all parked at the other end of the camp near the toilets.

As the sun dropped towards the craggy range behind the lake, reflections formed in the cool evening air.

The sun was gone by the time these visitors arrived for a quick photo-shoot. I got my own back and took some photos of the bride and groom as they posed on the waterfront. I felt sorry for the bride she spent most of the time swatting at sandflies (I forgot to mention there are plenty) and she must have been cold because she had thick black long-johns on underneath her dress! Don’t ask me what on earth the groom is doing, because I have no idea.

We’ll be out of range for a few days now while we explore the bottom end of the Lake Wakatipu. The weather forecast is not the greatest though, it would seem that the Indian summer is about to end.


  1. This is where we stayed a few weeks ago, when we were both last in Queenstown!
    Don't be fooled by the DOC sign for the walk around the lake, it only takes about an hour and a half.

    1. Like ships in the night! And yes as you say it only takes 90 minutes as I found out this morning and that was with about 10 minutes of photo stops. That's a first, a DOC sign that over-estimates. Mind you I got caught in the rain at the far end so that made me walk faster! :)


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