Summer and Water Activities on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

Get out on Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown this Summer

Top 10 Lake Wakatipu Activities and Attractions

Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown New Zealand, is a cold lake, even in summer! Summer and Water Activities on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

And if you don’t believe us, try taking a dip! The water temperature sits at a steady 11-13°C year round, (yes both in winter and summer!), and while those temperatures may not be conducive to getting IN the water; there’s no excuse not to get ON the water this summer. With so many water activities on offer in Queenstown, don’t leave town until you’ve had at least one experience on Lake Wakatipu. so find great Summer and Water Activities on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

The reason for Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu's cool temp in both winter and summer has a lot to do with the fact that it's New Zealand’s third largest lake. At its deepest point, Lake Wakatipu is around 380 metres (1,250ft) deep. That’s deeper than Auckland’s Sky Tower is tall. As well as this, several rivers that feed Lake Wakatipu are glacier-fed, helping keep things Arctic cool in summer!

Queenstown New Zealand is all about adventure and activities, and the list of water activities on Lake Wakatipu is extensive. So, if you've got the time, you can enjoy parasailing, jetboating, kayaking, cruising, fishing, rafting, canyoning, river surfing, jetski hire, stand-up paddle boarding and a shark-shaped hydro attack watercraft. No, we didn't make that last one up. More on that later.

Here are some of our favourite activities out on the sparkling blue water of Lake Wakatipu that can be enjoyed this summer and in fact any time of the year.

Summer and Water Activities on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

Spinnaker Bay Accommodation and Apartments on Lake Wakatipu

White Water Rafting

As well as an excellent adrenaline thrill, white water rafting in Queenstown gives you access to some truly spectacular locations such as gorges which are not seen any other way except by water.

A Shotover River Rafting Trip takes you into the remote and striking Skippers Canyon. The bus journey along Skippers Road is not for the faint of heart. The road is the original access to the abandoned gold mining township of Skippers and is cut into the steep rock face above the Shotover River gorge. Your heart will be racing before you even arrive at the rafts. A trip with Queenstown Rafting offers a real white water rafting experience along the river, graded 3 – 5 and the highest grade commercially rafted in the world. The gentler option of rafting the Kawarau River is for the less brave.   Check out Challenge Rafting and Family Adventures for more information.

Jet boating 

Queenstown and jetboating go hand in hand. The Hamilton jet boat was the first modern jet boat and was invented just up the road in South Canterbury. Harnessing this technology, the iconic Shotover Jet started in 1965 and has been going strong. Blasting through the breathtaking canyons, your driver skillfully navigates the sheer rock walls and will throw in a few 360°spins for extra fun. For a downtown option, the Kawarau Jet leaves from the main pier on the lake and shoots you off at speeds of 85 kilometres per hour across Lake Wakatipu and up the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers.

There are a number of Jet Boating operators in Queenstown New Zealand.  Start with these first... Shotover Jet, KJet and RealNZ

Summer and Water Activities on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

Scenic Cruises Gazing over Lake Wakatipu

You will often spot a cruise boat setting off into the striking landscape. A scenic cruise is one of the more sedate Queenstown activities, but you will be hugely rewarded. For gentle lake cruising check out The Million Dollar Lake Cruise, and Spirit of Queenstown.  

By far the most famous is the ‘lady of the lake’. The TSS Earnslaw is the only coal-fired steamship in operation in the Southern Hemisphere and has a Category One Heritage Listing. Real Journeys operate scenic cruises, lunch cruises and farm tour cruises on the TSS Earnslaw daily. Any tour will give you plenty of time to appreciate the workings of the old steamer. There is an open viewing platform to the engine room below, and you will often catch the onboard pianist for a good old-fashioned sing-a-long.

Summer and Water Activities on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown


Whether you’re a keen angler or not, fishing in Queenstown brings many rewards. The cool calm waters are home to salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout. Fishing charters will give you the option to fish in mountain beech forests, alpine spring creeks, rivers, lakes, and on farmland. Whether you get a bite or not, it’s sure to be a memorable day.

As a growing sport and tourism industry, fishing in Queenstown NZ is well represented by tour operators, big and small.  Here is a short list of a few:  Queenstown Fishing, UnReel Fishing Queenstown, Fishing Charters Queenstown, Fly Fishing Expeditions, Todd Adolp Fly Fishing, River Talk Fishing Queenstown, Driftboat Fly Fishing Queenstown, White Cloud Luxury Tours Queenstown.

For something a little crazy 

We love that Queenstown is a city of extremes. You could choose to enjoy a relaxing day out cruising or fly fishing, or you could choose to step into a shark-shaped submersible watercraft. Say that again? Perhaps the Hydro Attack team can describe it better themselves: Experience Hydro Attack, the world's first tour operator of a unique shark-shaped submersible watercraft operating on Lake Wakatipu. Enjoy the ultimate ride and test your adrenaline levels as the boat’s 260hp supercharged engine accelerates from 0 to 80kph in 3.9 seconds! Add to that jumps up to 6 metres out of the water and dives down to 2 metres below the water, rolls and a few doughnuts, and you're guaranteed an epic roller-coaster ride of a lifetime.

As long as you’re not looking to swim, there’s plenty to do on Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown New Zealand this summer!

Summer and Water Activities on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown