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Lake Hauroko Lookout Track – South Island New Zealand

Lake Hauroko Lookout Track – South Island New Zealand

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

A steep but rewarding hike to an incredible rock viewpoint overlooking Lake Hauroko with the Princess Mountains.

Looking to get off the beaten path in New Zealand’s south island? If you’ve got a camper, then I’d highly recommend heading down to Lake Hauroko, camping at the nearby freedom camping area, and taking the Lake Hauroko Lookout Track to the viewpoint to watch the sunset!

Here’s the full hiking guide for this very under-visited and underrated region of the Fjordlands.

Lake hauroko viewpoint

How to Get to Lake Hauroko

Getting to Lake Hauroko will require your own transport. There is only one access road to Lake Hauroko, known as Lillburn Valley Road, which connects to the Clifden Highwigh close by to the junction for Clifden Caves.

This 33 km stretch of road is gravel-based and frequently used by logging trucks. Therefore, it is usually well-maintained and most 2WD vehicles should be fine. However, you'll need to keep an eye out for speeding trucks.

I've pinned the location of the car park for Lake Hauroko on the map below. If you're having trouble finding the way, google: Lilburn Valley Road and follow it to the end.

Location: Parking Area

Map showing the location of the lake hauroko lookout

The Lake Hauroko Hike

  • Hike Length / Distance: 2-3 hours, 6.2 km in-out return
  • Hike Elevation: 430 m elevation gain, the lookout at 630 m AMSL
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate (fairly steep)

The hike to Lake Hauroko Viewpoint begins from the car park pinned on the map above. Near the lake foreshore, there is a signpost that points the way to the start of the hike.

The first section follows a path just within the scrub line on the edge of the lake. Near the start, there are a few small creek crossings that you'll need to make. However, you should be able to clear them without getting wet feet using the rocks and fallen logs to hop across.

Oliver walking along the dense trail to the hauroko track
Lake Hauroko track

Shortly after crossing the streams, the track bends right and steepens. This section, while being steep, is very beautiful. The native forest here in the Fjordlands is different from what you might find around Queenstown or waterfalls in the Catlins.

There is also a fair bit of treefall along the track, so make sure to keep an eye out for the orange triangle markers that show the way.

Lake hauroko track hiking trail

Reaching the Viewpoint

After a fairly steep climb, the track breaks out into a rock clearing. This is the end of the track and is known as the Lake Hauroko Lookout.

The view from here is vast and breathtaking. There are uninterrupted views of Lake Hauroko from the tock platform, as well as views of the nearby Takitimu and Princess Mountains.

We decided to leave late in order to catch the sunset behind the mountains. We sat for 2 hours admiring the view before taking the track back down to the lake in the dark.

Tip: If you choose to hike up for sunset be sure to pack a headtorch so that you can find your way back as the walk down is very dark!

Rock at lake hauroko viewpoint lookout track
Lake hauroko viewpoint at sunset
Lake hauroko viewpoint at sunset

Lake Hauroko Lookout GPX File

Here is the GPX track that I recorded using my Garmin GPS watch. If you want to download the track to use on your phone or watch, you can do so by clicking the download link below.

Haylea at the summit of the lookout point for lake hauroko
Peter's lookout drive we seek travel

Tip: How to Get Around in New Zealand

Rent a car! New Zealand is very safe for motorists & driving is the best way to explore the country.

I always DiscoverCars to get the best deals. Or, if you want a camper, I've had good experiences in NZ with Spaceships & Travellers Autobarn.

Lake Hauroko Camping

If you're on a New Zealand road trip, then visiting Lake Hauroko is a great bet, since there is a freedom camping spot less than 15 minutes away.

This spot is known as Thicketburn Campground. Facilities include a bench, toilet, and a fresh-water tank (non-potable). The campground is essentially a large grass clearing with plenty of spaces for campers and cars.

Location: Campground

Just beware, the Campermate reviews mention that the ground here can be very boggy after wet weather. Also, we managed to pick up an extra passenger in the form of a small mouse here. It took us almost 3 days to get him out of the car, so keep your doors closed and food in a container!

Lake hauroko lookuot

I hope you found this guide to the Lake Hauroko Lookout Track useful. If you're looking for more travel guides for New Zealand's South Island, make sure to check out some of the links below.

A good starting point for more ideas on great hikes is this guide to the Best Hikes on the South Island!

Views at sunset from lake hauroko viewpoint
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.