Fiordland Mavora Lakes of New Zealand - more on www.travelswithsun.com

Mavora Lakes in Fiordland, New Zealand is popular among locals but for us tourists, it involves quite a detour  to get to.

The park itself is divided into the South and North Mavora lakes with the Mararoa river in between the lakes.

There is no admission fee unless you want to camp there overnight.

Mararoa river in Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand - more on what to expect on www.travelswithsun.com
Mararoa river in Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand
Snowy peaks visible from Mavora Lakes - more on what to expect on www.travelswithsun.com
Snowy peaks visible from Mavora Lakes

You might be wondering if it’s even worth going to:

A stretch of 40km gravel road is the one obstacle you should anticipate before heading to this beautiful park renowned for not one, but three Lord of the Rings filming sites.

The gravel road into Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand - more on Mavora Lakes on www.travelswithsun.com
The gravel road into Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand

Getting to Mavora Lakes

If you’re coming from:

Te Anau – 1 hr, 11 minutes (69.9km)

Invercargill – 2hr 16 minutes (155km)

Queenstown – 2 hr, 28 minutes (168km)

Wanaka – 3hr 14 minutes (223km)

Dunedin – 3 hr 47 minutes (286km)

Mavora lakes location on a map - more on Mavora Lakes on www.travelswithsun.com
Mavora lakes location

After that dusty trip on the bumpy gravel road, you might realise you might as well stay longer at the park:

Camping overnight at Mavora Lakes

After the less than an hour’s drive on the gravel road, you will reach the entrance to the park.

Here (and pretty much everywhere around the park), you will find similar DOC honesty boxes with envelopes and forms to fill.

It costs $8 per adult per night.

The entrance to Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand - more on Mavora Lakes on www.travelswithsun.com
The entrance to Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand

This is where the south lake is:

There is a swing bridge with a great view of the lake that can be accessed from the day parking area.

The swingbridge at South Mavora Lake - more on Mavora Lakes in www.travelswithsun.com
The swingbridge at South Mavora Lake

The camping sites are marked by signs and are usually near the long drop toilets (we did not see any flush toilets).

One of the longdrop toilets at Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand - more on Mavora Lakes on www.travelswithsun.com
One of the longdrop toilets at Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand

There are camping sites near the lake and further inland, near the trees.

Pay heed to the signs that also say “No vehicles”:

These are usually closer to the stream and on the higher ground of the park.

One of the barbeque pits at Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand - more on what to expect on www.travelswithsun.com
One of the barbeque pits at Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand

Other facilities worth mentioning are the boat ramps (we saw one around the North lake).

And the taps that draw their supply straight from the surrounding streams. Untreated water, mind you.

One of the taps (stream water) at Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand - more on what to expect on www.travelswithsun.com
One of the taps (stream water) at Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand

There are no trash cans. So, take your trash back with you out of the park. Please.

People bring their dogs and may let them loose around the park so take note:

They don’t necessarily follow the campground rule that dogs must be kept on a leash around the campsites.

You can keep your horses here. The paddock is at the north side of Mavora Lakes.

Where to keep the horses at Mavora lakes - more on www.travelswithsun.com
Where to keep the horses at Mavora lakes

What to do at Mavora Lakes

  1. Camping – Obvious?
  2. Boating or kayaking– Locals come here to use their boats. There are specific rules you have to follow based on the brochure downloaded from the DOC webpage.
  3. Fishing for trout – We saw someone fishing but didn’t see any fish in the clear waters of the lakes or river. Oh, and you need a license and the limit is 2 fish per person.
  4. Swimming – There is evidence (swing ropes) that people swim in the river connecting the two lakes (a.k.a Mararoa River) but I think that’s during the summer season.
  5. Horse riding – There is even a paddock for keeping your horse if you have one. Pity for the horses though. The sandflies are abundant in this location.
  6. Cycling – A lot of people bring their bicycles (and even ATVs) to explore the park.
  7. Barbeques – There are plenty of barbeque areas – you are not allowed to set up a fire anywhere else.
  8. Walking/tramping – plenty of trails to explore around the park. There is even a 4-day track that starts at the north lake and heads way up, passing a number of huts along the way. We opted for the shorter walks (2-3 hours one way or return) but found them to be a little too swamped to continue right to the end.
    Swingbridge over Mararoa river near the North Mavora Lake - more on what to do at Mavora Lakes at www.travelswithsun.com
    Swingbridge over Mararoa river near the North Mavora Lake
    The swingbridge over Mararoa river close to the North Mavora lake camping site - more on Mavora Lakes on www.travelswithsun.com
    The swingbridge over Mararoa river close to the North Mavora lake camping site

    Walk along the shore of Mavora lake from the swingbridge at the North Mavora Lake campsite - more things to do in Mavora Lakes on www.travelswithsun.com
    Walk along the shore of Mavora lake from the swingbridge at the North Mavora Lake campsite

And if you’re here to find the Lord of the Ring film locations:

Lord of the Ring sites at Mavora Lakes

  1. Check out the view of the river from the swing bridge at the entrance to the park
    The swing bridge at South Mavora Lake in Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand - More on Mavora Lakes on www.travelswithsun.com
    The swing bridge at South Mavora Lake in Mavora Lakes of Fiordland, New Zealand

    Cloudy sky reflected in Mavora Lake - more on www.travelswithsun.com
    Cloudy sky reflected in Mavora Lake
  2. The pebbly shore along the North Mavora lake

    Shoreline of North Mavora lake - more on Mavora Lakes on www.travelswithsun.com
    Shoreline of North Mavora lake
  3. The forests along the lake look straight out of the movie

    Forest in Mavora Lakes - more on Mavora Lakes on www.travelswithsun.com
    Forest in Mavora Lakes

By the way:

Be sure to bring along insect repellent.

There are quite a lot of sandflies in Mavora lakes:

How many? We left our car open while cooking at the back.

Before we went to sleep, we discovered and killed at least a hundred in the car.

These New Zealand west coast sandflies are harmless in the fact that they don’t harbour any diseases (like mosquitoes) but the endless buzzing and itchy bites can drive a person to distraction easily.

Still:

Don’t let the sandflies (or the detour and gravel road) deter you from visiting Mavora Lakes.

We nearly omitted this from our plan during our working holiday in New Zealand and we’re tremendously grateful that we didn’t!

It is a gorgeous place, regardless of rain or shine. We happened to go there when it was cloudy with some drizzle. And it was still a marvel.

Conclusion

Whether or not you are a fan of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, this place is well worth the detour (and hassle) to visit. It’s so beautiful that blue skies and clear weather aren’t necessary. So just imagine if it was sunny! <3

Is Mavora Lakes on your New Zealand bucket list? Leave a comment below.

 

Can’t fit Mavora Lakes into your full travel schedule?

Consider getting a visitor visa or a working holiday visa for New Zealand.

Got time to spare?

Here are some other places to visit in Fiordland (on a budget).

Need help planning the rest of your trip in New Zealand?

Check out our New Zealand trip itinerary from North to South island

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New Zealand's Mavora Lakes in Fiordland - www.travelswithsun.com
New Zealand’s Mavora Lakes in Fiordland – www.travelswithsun.com

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