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Jewel in the crown

Image of the December 2017 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
December 2017 Issue

Lake Wanaka Lookout Track, Diamond Lake Conservation Area

It might be a cliché to call Diamond Lake a jewel in the crown, but if you’re looking for a short stroll to a hidden treasure, then this lake is it. The autumn colours of the willows that fringe the lake contrast with the dry, late season Otago tussock and suddenly the cliché is justified.

It’s a relaxed day or evening stroll through spectacular rock scenery with an astonishing viewpoint high above the lake at its end.

A good steep track leads to the lake that sits in a bowl carved out during the last ice age. The track follows the shore of the lake before zigzagging through the Weeping Forest of dense ribbonwood, wineberry and bush lawyer. A boardwalk hugs the side of Weeping Wall, where water drips from the overhanging cliff above. You’ll hear bellbird, fantail and grey warbler as you ascend.

The track leads to a spectacular viewpoint perched high above Diamond Lake, with views to Hospital Flat and Roy’s Peak. In 1954, the Otago ice skating championships were held on the lake, but ice-skating is an unlikely future prospect given the warming climate.

It’s worth continuing on to the Lake Wanaka Lookout Track, and further still, to the top of Rocky Mountain (775m) for panoramic views to the west of the high, snow-covered peaks of Mt Aspiring National Park and Mt Aspiring/Tititea itself.

– Fraser Crichton 

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Total Ascent
Car park to viewpoint, 1hr return; including Wanaka Lookout Track, 3hr return
On Matukituki Valley Road just past Hospital Flat

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Diamond Lake and Lake Wanaka Lookout Track (gpx, 22 KB)

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