Lake Pukaki is an alpine lake in the South Island of New Zealand.

It's a place that makes you stop and stare because it's so beautiful. The water is incredibly blue, surrounded by the golden grass of the Mackenzie basin.

It's surprising that a road runs right past the lake. Lake Pukaki is conveniently located two hours and 40 minutes from Queenstown, three and a half hours from Christchurch, and just 30 minutes from Lake Tekapo.

Lykkers, if you drive from Queenstown to Mount Cook or Christchurch, you'll pass by it.

1) Visit Lake Pukaki viewpoints

There are many spots along the shore of Lake Pukaki where you can stop and enjoy the view. You can pull over almost anywhere to take photos.

If you’re coming from Tekapo, you'll reach this viewpoint first.

If you’re coming from Twizel, you'll come to Lake Pukaki car park.

Another popular place to stop (and take the famous photo of the road next to the lake) is further along the road to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

2) Swing by the Punatuhu Visitor Centre

The visitor centre is a small building with a seating area where you can enjoy views of the lake.

There are also information panels that tell the history and stories of the area.

There’s no information desk, but it’s still worth visiting to learn about the lake and region.

3) Admire the Alpine Lavender farm

During the summer months—December, January, and February—you can visit New Zealand Alpine Lavender.

The certified organic farm uses the strong sunshine and clean environment to grow fragrant and colorful lavender. You can visit the farm for about $5 entry fee and take photos.

Or, you can stop to enjoy a lavender ice cream and the beautiful view.

4) Stargaze in the Dark Sky Reserve

The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, including the area around Lake Pukaki and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, is dedicated to preserving the quality of its night skies and reducing light pollution. This makes it perfect for stargazing.

On a clear night, the pristine skies around Pukaki are stunning. The freedom camping area is ideal for this.

The Dark Sky Project costs about $30 and is open from 9 AM to 10 PM.

Accommodation near Lake Pukaki

One thing to understand about Lake Pukaki is that it’s not a town or even a village—it’s just a lake with a few facilities like public toilets on the southern edge.

The nearest town with hotels is Twizel, a 15-minute drive away.

There are a few great accommodation options around the edge of Lake Pukaki, as well as more options in Twizel. Accommodation is around $90- $120.

Thanks for reading! What did you think of these suggestions for exploring Lake Pukaki? Have you visited this stunning location before, or are you planning to go? We’d love to hear from you!