Favourite walks: Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve


We have driven past the Lake Daniell track many times on our way to Christchurch via the Lewis Pass. Last summer, while touring the South Island, we finally took the time to do the walk and discovered it is well worth a visit.

Just off SH7, near Springs Junction township, Marble Hill DOC campground is the starting point for this easy walk through beautiful native bush to Lake Daniell. The track is well-maintained and suitable for most ages. It can be done as a day trip – 8.4 kilometres one way (2.5-3 hours) – or pack some gear and spend the night at the hut on the edge of the lake. Either way Lake Daniell is a hidden gem, perfect for a picnic or an overnight adventure with the family.

If you are short of time, not far along the track is the Sluice Box Bridge where the water is so clear you can spot the trout hovering in the current. The track then follows the river passing through red beech forest, sometimes climbing high above the river. Curious native birds dart alongside, a testament to the predator traps along the track.

Lake Daniell is quite shallow with a small jetty. We saw a few fishing rods, and yes, there are trout in the lake. The Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut on the lakeside sleeps up to 24 and has an awesome place to relax on the deck overlooking the lake. There is also a grassy area for tents, or impromptu ball games.

The track is popular, and there is a good carpark area by the shelter at the start. There are toilets and potable water available at the campsite. For a treat after your walk, the Maruia Springs Thermal Resort is around 10km south. It has natural thermal pools and a Japanese-style bathhouse to soak away the aches. The resort also has accommodation and a Japanese restaurant.

Alternatively, you can stay (as we did) at the peaceful Marble Hill DOC campsite for just $6 per person.

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