The Moke Lake Loop Track is a scenic 6-7km walk 20-minutes outside of Queenstown.
This walk is going to offer crazy different scenery depending on the time of year you visit, but I must say when I was there in late September the surrounding snow was gorgeous (it’s rare to have snow that low at that time of the year).
This post will give you all the details you need to know about walking the Lake Moke Loop.
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DETAILS ABOUT THE MOKE LAKE LOOP TRACK
This is one of the Queenstown walks that everyone seems to have good things to say about. It’s true!
Given it’s a 20-minute drive out of the city, there won’t be millions of people on the track and you do feel pretty isolated being away from all the highways. The views are awesome, and the track is easy to follow with the boardwalks a nice touch. And then like Rotorua’s Blue Lake walk, you can take a dip afterward.
Also, you can walk from the Mount Crichton loop to Moke Lake.
When1: September 2020
Walk Distance3: My Strava recording came in at 7.29km for the full loop. That includes 200 metres of trying to find an alternative route over one of the boardwalks (you’ll read about that below) and the extra 800 metres to go out to the peninsula. So you can make this walk just over 6km if need be, but be prepared for a 6.5-7.5km walk to be safe.
Elevation Gain4: Strava recorded 156 metres of elevation gain over the whole walk. That’s fairly spread out with the largest ‘climb’ about 40 metres. The incline won’t be an issue at all.
Hike Duration5: It took us just over 2 hours to complete the loop. We were stopping for photos a reasonable amount and weren’t racing through the walk so 2 hours is pretty reasonable for most people. The DOC signs say it’ll take 2.5 hours. I feel as though most people will take 2-2.5 hours to complete the walk (plus picnic time), though 90 minutes is possible if you’ve got limited time.
If you don’t fancy the walk, you can book this trip which includes transport to/from Queenstown. Rather than walking the track around the lake, you can choose to go on a kayak or SUP on the lake.
MOKE LAKE LOOP MAP
The map above is from maps.me and has the full loop on the map, as well as the other tracks in the vicinity.
Google Maps shows most of the track, but not the whole thing so I prefer sticking with the Maps.me app. That said, the signs are pretty solid and you won’t ever be far from the lake so you shouldn’t get lost at all.
HOW TO GET THERE
There’s no public transport to here, so you’ll likely need to drive. Hitchhiking is another option, though there is limited traffic after the turn off onto Moke Lake Road. There are numerous points where you can start the walk around the lake, but parking at the DOC campsite is the norm. The track runs right from there.
You can also do some of the other tracks in the area that lead to Moke Lake.
It’s about 15km from the centre of Queenstown to Moke Lake . All you need to do is drive west along Lake Wakatipu towards Glenorchy and make the right-hand turn onto Moke Lake Road. Keep driving and you can’t miss the lake at all 🙂
Google estimates the drive to take 20-25 minutes.
MY EXPERIENCE WALKING THE MOKE LAKE LOOP
The day before I did the walk snow had been falling in Queenstown itself so we knew we’d be walking in at least some snow. That was ok, the main concern was the road to the lake might not have been suitable for driving.
We shouldn’t have worried though, as there was no snow on the road itself, but we drove cautiously, grateful for no slips on the ice (in a station wagon).
Once we arrived at the DOC campsite area we parked in front of the entrance. In hindsight we should have driven into the campsite area to the large car park space you see above (there’s a toilet block nearby too).
It doesn’t really matter what way you walk, but the most instinctive way is to go anti-clockwise across the boardwalk/bridge next to the car park first.
But that boardwalk soon gave became our first obstacle. The water level was higher than the boardwalk thanks to the melting snow. We attempted to find another crossing upstream but soon turned back after we committed to taking our shoes off and walking across. A chilly start!
I believe if you walk upstream about 200 metres you’ll come across a spot to cross, but that does mean sneaking across private land. That should be okay, as long as you move quickly. That said, the boardwalk will usually be fine.
With our shoes back on we follow the shoreline. Despite the snow it’s easy enough to follow the track. Once you hit the fenceline at the northwest corner of the lake, you can veer right to find the secret Moke Lake spot mentioned here on Destinationless Travel.
We didn’t go up to the viewpoint given the snow levels.
We turn left following the lake which involves a small incline to start. It’s nothing crazy and again the trail is easy to follow. The photo opportunities really begin here with the mountains overlooking the lake. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe we’re looking at Ben Lomond and Bob’s Peak (the really pointy one that looks like Mount Taranaki) most of the time.
There’s nothing really to report as the walk is self-explanatory. It’s just a matter of following the track around the lake and trying not to stop for every single photo opportunity. You’d be there all day.
There are two boardwalks on the southern ends of the lake too. There’s something satisfying about walking on boardwalks.
The part where we nearly made a wrong turn was at the lake peninsula thingy (this will make sense looking at the map) where there are a bunch of options. In reality, it’s simple.
We decided to walk out on the peninsula to see the view, which does add another 800 metres to the walk but it’s a nice view (photo above). If you wanted to have lunch on the way, this would be the spot.
As you walk back to the main track, take the track on the left closest to the lake. This next section had some of the nicest views I felt.
After crossing the boardwalk and following the final stretch along the east side of the lake, you’ll be on the road for a few hundred metres. It’s not a heavily trafficked road so you’ll be fine (keep the kids close). You’ll see a sign pointing you back to the track as you make your way back to the campsite area.
In the summer, a dip in the lake after the walk would be ideal…or you could then go and complete the Moonlight Track to Arthur’s Point, departing Moke Lake.
No chance that was happening for us 🙂
The Moke Lake Loop walk isn’t what you’d call a hidden gem. There’s a DOC campsite there after all. But it’s an amazing way to spend a few hours in Queenstown.
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