Nestled on the West Coast of NZ’s South Island is the stunning Lake Mahinapua Scenic Reserve. This breathtaking location has been a protected scenic reserve since 1907 and is one of the best places to visit on the South Island thanks to its beautiful landscapes and rich wildlife.
There are ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, boating and birdwatching, to name but a few.
Lake Mahinapua itself, which was once upon a time actually a coastal lagoon fed by the Hokitika river, holds a special significance for the local Māori tribes ‒ Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Wairang ‒ because it is the site of a battle and is therefore regarded as sacred. For this reason, visitors are not allowed to swim or fish in the lake, even though its brown waters are home to a variety of native fishes, such as eels, tuna, inanga and the giant kōkopu.
The West Coast Treetop Walk
For visitors who want to experience the area from a different perspective, the West Coast Treetop Walk is a must-visit. This popular walking track opened in 2012 and offers stunning views from high above the treetops. It provides an opportunity to see the surrounding forest from a different angle and to experience the beauty of this area in a unique way. There are also treetop ziplines for the more adventurous.
The forest surrounding Lake Mahinapua is incredibly diverse, ranging from rimu-kamahi on the retreating glacier to coastal forests. The stunning and expansive forest all the way to the Tasman Sea has been preserved, featuring both southern and northern rātā species, the tallest flowering trees in New Zealand.
The area is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with a wide range of beautiful and rare birds calling it home. You will be enthralled by the sounds of parakeets, tūī, bellbirds and kererū all around you.
You will also see a plethora of water birds, such as grey and mallard ducks and black swans, with sightings of fernbirds. Majestic white herons (kotuku) can also be found in the area, while bitterns and the southern crested grebe can also be seen now and then.
If you’re ready to see one of the best places to visit on the South Island, then pack your bags, grab your camera and head out to experience this incredible part of New Zealand for yourself. Contact us at West Coast Tree Tops to find out more about the treetop walk and zipline experience!