Sunset on Lake Mahināpua
Image: Brandon Koger | Creative Commons


Lake Mahinapua is a scenic reserve that offers opportunities for camping, picnicking, walking and water based activities.


Place overview


  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Mountain biking
  • Swimming
  • Walking and tramping

Find things to do and places to stay Mahinapua Scenic Reserve

About track difficulties
About track difficulties

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.


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.

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    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.

    Getting there

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

    Access to the Mananui Tramline (Mahinapua Walkway) is from a signposted carpark approximately 8 km south of Hokitika on SH6 or from a carpark 14 km south of Hokitika on the eastern side of lake Mahinapua on the Ross-Rimu road from Hokitika.

    The walk can be done from either direction.

    Know before you go

    Dogs are not permitted in the Mahinapua Scenic Reserve.


    Hokitika Office
    Phone:   +64 3 756 9100
    Address:   10 Sewell Street
    Hokitika 7810
    Full office details
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