Mahināpua Scenic Reserve


Canoeist on Lake Mahināpua as seen through tree ferns. Photo: P.Mounsey.
Canoeist on Lake Mahināpua as seen
through tree ferns

Lake Mahināpua is one of the finest spots around Hokitika for a day out or a quiet afternoon.

The scenic reserve was gazetted in 1907 and provides a forested margin around the lake.

The lake was once a coastal lagoon, but with the build up of coastal dune systems, became a shallow inland lake.


Black swans, grey and mallard ducks are all common on the lake, while the rare bittern and seasonal white herons can occasionally be seen. Flax and rushes dominate the vegetation on the lake edge providing sheltered sites for swans and the ducks to breed. The shy fern bird can also at times be heard and sometimes seen flitting amongst these swampy wetland areas.

The surrounding bush is a mix of podocarps and hardwood species such as miro, matai, totara, rimu and kahikatea closer to the lake, with sub-canopy species such as kamahi, mahoe and quintinia being common. These tree species provide an important seasonal food supply for some of the birds found here; parakeets, tui, bellbird, pigeon.

Dogs are not permitted in the Mahināpua Scenic Reserve.


  • Toilets


Lake Mahināpua is located 10 km south of Hokitika on the West Coast.

Getting there

10 km south of Hokitika on State Highway 6 turn left onto the Lake Mahināpua access road opposite the Lake Mahināpua Hotel, continue 299 metres along this gravel road which opens out to the recreation area.

Access to the Mananui Tramline (Mahināpua Walkway) is from a signposted carpark approximately 8 km south of Hokitika on State Highway 6 or from a carpark 14 km south of Hokitika on the eastern side of lake Mahināpua on the Ross-Rimu road from Hokitika.

The walk can be done from either direction.


Boating Boating
Fishing Fishing
Kayaking and canoeing Kayaking and canoeing
Mountain biking and cycling Mountain biking and cycling
Swimming Swimming

The area offers opportunities for camping, picnicking, walking and water based activities.


Lake Mahināpua is popular with sailors and home to a yacht club. 


There are perch in Lake Mahināpua.

Kayaking and canoeing

There is a great paddle to be had from the Lake through Mahināpua Creek and down towards the township of Hokitika. The Creek has a very gentle current, and passes through beautiful wetland and forest; white herons are usually seen. This trip is suitable for novice paddlers and people in Canadian canoes. Paddlers get out either where the creek crosses the main highway, or further down toward the mouth of the creek, close to the confluence with the Hokitika River.

Mountain biking and cycling

You can cycle the Mananui Tramline (Mahināpua Walkway).


Lake Mahināpua is popular as a swimming spot. The water in the lake is fed from large wetlands, so is much warmer than water in many other, predominently mountain fed swimming holes. There are two main spots, in front of the picnic area where the jetty is, and Swimmers Beach, which is signposted from the top carpark at the camping ground.

Tracks and walks

There are a number of short walks close to the lake.

A bush walk from the end of the access road passes through typical wetland forest dominated by kahikatea.

The Bellbird Walk at the southern end of the lake takes 10 min to loop around a pond.

The historic Mananui Tramline (Mahināpua Walkway) is considerably longer (2 – 2 hr 30 min one way) but incorporates a variety of scenery and terrain and includes access to a pebbly beach at the edge of the lake as well as boardwalks across swampy areas of wetland close to Mahināpua Creek. Cycling is permitted on the walkway.

Plan and prepare

Short video of Lake Mahinapua

Related links

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Find out more

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Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

Alerts for West Coast places


Hokitika Office
Phone:      +64 3 756 9100
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