Lake Sylvan Track

Lake Sylvan Track

Lake Sylvan Track


13 Rankers Reviews

11 Face-to-Face

8 Glenorchy

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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4.6 km if returning via old tramline | 1 hour 40 minutes return via old tramline

There’s a plethora of peaks on show from the lake.


Only return via the old tramline if it hasn’t been raining, as there is a small river crossing.


From Glenorchy follow signs to Routeburn Track all the way. This will lead you over the Rees River, then a hard left into Priory Road. Straight after crossing the Dart River turn right into Routeburn Road and after 5km Lake Sylvan is signposted on the right.

This last section is unsuited to large campervans, although many do make it.


The start of the track is after the swingbridge over the Routeburn River. The peaks here are on a grand scale, although you only ever get to see them on the drive and at Lake Sylvan outlet.

The track is wet and boggy after rain and weaves through open red beech forest. Make sure you follow the orange triangles, especially if you have to leave the track to circumnavigate a wet patch. Blue and pink triangles are for trap lines. Follow only orange triangles.

After 20 minutes is the junction with the old tramline.

Continue over the uneven and broken moraines before arriving at the circular viewing platform by the lake outlet.

The return via the tramline track is wetter, narrower and boggier but has some more open views due to the lower revegetation of the beech forest. There is a small river crossing near where the loop rejoins the main track.

European History

The Cook brothers milled timber, including totara from the area.

Scheelite mining took place in the area.


Feature Value Info


DOC Otago

Central government organisation


South IslandQueenstown RegionGlenorchy


  • Walking
  • Free


Arthur Rolf's avatar

Arthur Rolf


Ranking: 10/10

Favourite place in NZ!

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Eveet De Beleir's avatar

Eveet De Beleir


Ranking: 8/10

Nice little walk. The weather was not good but we can imagine that it is nice to swim when the sun is shining.

Reviewed almost 5 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Molly Bogeberg's avatar

Molly Bogeberg

United States

Ranking: 9/10

Short walk that felt as if you were walking through a forest from Lord of the Rings! The trail ends at a lookout over Lake Sylvan. We decided to take a dip and walk out to watch the sunset on a rock in the water. It was quite nice!!

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Michael Busching's avatar

Michael Busching


Ranking: 10/10

It was a nice and easy walk to the beautiful lake. You can either choose a 40 minute walk or a 1 to 2 hour walk via the tramway. Highly recommended.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Thank You - to the thousands of travellers that have contributed to our Top Voted NZ Activities Map - it's free from Rankers.

Barbara's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

It was a nice and easy walk to Lake Sylvan. You had to go through the forest before you got to the lake. We had nice weather and the lookout was beautiful. Was recommended by a friend.

Reviewed about 7 years ago and experienced in December 2014

Matt Weston's avatar

Matt Weston

United Kingdom

Ranking: 10/10

Stunning walk through the forest.

Reviewed about 7 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Niamh Duane's avatar

Niamh Duane

United Kingdom

Ranking: 9/10

Beautiful tranquil forest walk. Very peaceful and bird song to accompany your walk.

Reviewed about 7 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Manuela Opprecht's avatar

Manuela Opprecht

Ranking: 7/10

Nice and easy. Nothing special but relaxing. nice view over the lake. Many birds in the forest.

Reviewed over 7 years ago

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Jesper Andersen's avatar

Jesper Andersen


Ranking: 6/10

Nice walk in the forest. 2hr return. The lake is nice but the walk becomes a bit boring after a bit.

Reviewed about 8 years ago and experienced in January 2014

Lena Jensen's avatar

Lena Jensen


Ranking: 5/10

Nice walk in the mossy forest. Great view of the lake. 2 hour return where the last bit can be a bit boring from the same experience of the forest.

Reviewed about 8 years ago and experienced in January 2014

Andreas Schacke's avatar

Andreas Schacke


Ranking: 6/10

Don't expect views here (even of the lake). Walk in a beautiful forest setting.

Reviewed over 9 years ago and experienced in March 2012

Hadas and Amichay Guter's avatar

Hadas and Amichay Guter


Ranking: 9/10


Reviewed almost 11 years ago and experienced in March 2011

Estel la Prado's avatar

Estel la Prado


Ranking: 10/10

The lake is good. Short walk 2 hours return.

Reviewed almost 11 years ago and experienced in March 2011

DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick