On and off the water, there is much to see and do around tranquil Lake Brunner / Kotuku Whakaoho — the largest lake on the West Coast — famous for fat trout and world-class fishing, a photogenic alpine backdrop, inky reflective waters, and sandy bays to kayak into for summer picnics.
Walks start either from Moana, a little town on the northern edge of Lake Brunner, or at the southern end near Lake Brunner Lodge. Explore short lakeside trails or launch out on a hilly day hike, discover pristine rainforest, languid reflections, glowworms and an impressive waterfall.
Virgin rainforest, magnificent trees, alpine views
Climb up through regenerating bush on the western edge of Moana to wide views of the lake, valley and mountains beyond. The unmodified forest on the ridge features some superb specimens of mature statuesque forest trees such as rimu, miro and kahikatea.
Forest reflections, swingbridge with panoramic views
A short, easy and pretty trail. Admire panoramic views of Lake Brunner and forest reflections from the suspension footbridge over the Arnold / Kotuku river, then follow the short, well formed track looping through the riverside forest of mature podocarps and groves of ferns and moss.
Spectacular lake and alpine views, lakeside picnic spots
Cross the swing bridge over the Arnold River and follow the lake shore to spectacular views of the lake and mountains. Not so much a trail as easy walking access to the lake’s north-western shoreline and the best picnic spots and swimming beaches near Moana.
Small power station and dam, native forest and birdlife
Cross the Arnold River / Kotuku Awa at the hydro electric power station — 12 km from Moana, and New Zealand’s smallest power station — then follow the track through a stand of giant forest trees that survived sawmilling, before climbing up to a terrace with a dramatic view over the dam and small lake.
Impressive waterfall, forest track, lake views
A gentle climb on a well-formed track through mixed podocarp forest to an impressive waterfall that tumbles from high above producing a refreshing mist, perfect for natural cooling on a hot summer’s day. Immense granite boulders provide a natural grandstand for lake views.
Note: The longer Bain Bay Walk (7.2km / 2.5 hr return) is closed.
Lake and alpine views, fine mature forest, prolific birdlife
Setting off from Iveagh Bay, the forest track leads to three lookouts with great views of Lake Brunner, Moana and surrounds, then climbs up to the open tussock tops of Mt. Te Kinga (1196 m asl) and panoramic views of the Paparoa Range, Tasman Sea and main divide. It’s an easy climb as far as the second lookout, but the alpine track beyond is only recommended for fit and experienced trampers.
Rimu forest, spectacular lake and alpine views
For more experienced trampers, the hike up Mount French (1305m) is a full-day excursion that passes through mixed rimu forest to reward with spectacular views of Lake Brunner and the Southern Alps.