Nature reigns supreme and serene over the quiet waters of the West Coast’s largest lake — Lake Brunner, renowned for the beauty of its mirror reflections of forest giants crowning the lakeshore and majestic Southern Alps beyond.
The cruisy little lakeside resort of Moana is busiest in summer but there’s space for everyone and plenty to do year-round. In fact, it’s rare to find a real crowd around here unless you go below the surface where the trout are hiding.
Tall native trees on the shores surrounding Lake Brunner's pristine waters.
Local fishing lore holds that Lake Brunner is the place where ‘trout die of old age’! Whatever, Lake Brunner is a world-class fishing destination — one of New Zealand’s best fisheries, both on and off the lake and in the 40-plus streams and rivers in close proximity to Moana.
Lake Brunner holds excellent stocks of wild brown trout (averaging 1.5 to 2 kg / 3 - 4 lb), and a small population of rainbow trout. It has a year-round fishing season from boats or fly fishing, and guides, licenses and hire boats are all on hand.
A fortuitous combination of geography and climate contribute to Lake Brunner’s exceptional fishing conditions. The water is warmer than the snow-fed lakes further south, and the temperate West Coast climate means trout remain active and available in winter.
Soft early morning views across the serene waters of Lake Brunner.
On the northern shores of Lake Brunner, Moana is a friendly little holiday settlement with panoramic views of the lake and mountains beyond.
Populated largely with holiday homes and smaller weekend baches, the ‘Riviera of Westland’ is the ideal base for access to all the activities on and around the lake. Think boating, kayaking and paddle-boarding to swimming, walking, biking and fishing.
Accommodation in town ranges from hotel and motels to campground, holiday homes to hire along with several eateries and a store. If relaxing is on the menu, the hotel has hot tubs for hire and magnificent stargazing on clear nights.
The TranzAlpine scenic train journey pulls into Moana’s historic little railway station twice a day en route between Greymouth and Christchurch.
Expansive views of Lake Brunner from Mt. Te Kinga — a demanding full-day return tramp to the summit.
The first Europeans in the area were loggers, and sawmills were an important early industry. That’s over now but this legacy includes many lovely historic tracks and trails that have been upgraded for walking and biking.
From Moana there are several pleasant forest trails through a variety of pretty wetland and rainforest ecosystems with abundant birdlife and glowworms by night — starting from gentle 20-minute trails to secluded beaches and waterfalls, day hikes and demanding alpine tracks for experienced trampers.
Lake Brunner's original Māori name is Moana-Kōtuku which means ‘sea of herons’ so keep an eye out for these stately white birds around the waterside.
Several local mountain biking and cycling trails include the 130 km (260 km return) lake circuit — the route of the annual ‘Around Brunner Cycle Ride’ which starts from Moana.
Luxuriant wetland and rainforest ecosystems feed the temperate waters of Lake Brunner, creating a fisherman’s dream destination.
Moana is 40 km inland from Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast.
Drive in from Christchurch through the Southern Alps (230 km / 2 hr 40 min) or arrive in style on the scenic TranzAlpine rail journey — a breathtaking 5 hr one-way (223 km / 139 mi) journey via braided rivers, alpine valleys, lakes and the Great Divide.
Travel Tip: Some of the best days at Lake Brunner are in winter with crisp, clear days and uninterrupted views of the Southern Alps.
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