Lake Marian Track

Lake Marian Track - Hollyford Road - Fiordland National Park

Lake Marian Track

Hollyford Road - Fiordland National Park


65 Rankers Reviews

53 Face-to-Face

11 Milford Sound - Fiordland National Park

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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Lake Marian - tranquility


4.8 km return | 3 hours return

The Lake Marian (695 metres) is a total gem near the Hollyford Road. Nested in a bowl, surrounded by 1500 metre high sheer granite walls, scoured to the vertical by glaciers, the remnants of which cling tenaciously to the mountain tops and sprout myriad small waterfalls - need we go on!


1 km down the Lower Hollyford Road, there is a small parking area on the left by the start of the track.


Cross the swingbridge over the Hollyford River and begin your climb. The first 10 minutes to the cantilevered gantries above a rushing section of Marian Creek, is well-metalled and of even footing.

The rest of the track is much more gnarled, with rocks, roots and occasional muddy patches. Around 20 minutes before the lake you cross a rock slide that weaves the track to the northern side of the gorge. It is one of those tracks when you think you are nearly there, but the brow of the hill keeps retreating. Eventually, you sense a change in vegetation- ferns to moss and a more stunted tree growth.

Then the lake appears and the climb suddenly becomes worthwhile.


The Marian Valley is a perfect example of a hanging valley, the remaining legacy of a tributary glacier that met the main Hollyford Glacier. Smaller glaciers possess less erosive power and are less able to incise deeply into the bedrock. They thus meet the main valley glacier at the same height, but do not cut down as deep. When the glaciers melt, the hanging valleys are left perching above the main valley.


Consolidated screes fan out at the base of the mountains, some devoid of vegetation cover, but most tinged green with tussock, ferns, and shrubs.

European History

Lake Marian was named by surveyor E.H Wilmot after his cousin Marian Little.


The water is a deep jade green and on calm days reflects the majestic surroundings. A rocky shore on the lake edge offers a choice of spots for a feed, while checking out the waterfalls, waterfowl and breathtaking mountain sculptures. Mount Crosscut, obviously named because it’s jagged peaks resemble the teeth of a crosscut saw, dominates the view.


Feature Value Info


DOC Fiordland

Central government organisation


South IslandFiordlandMilford Sound - Fiordland National Park


  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 63.

Brennon Lanigan's avatar

Brennon Lanigan

New Zealand

Ranking: 3/10

To be honest, I didn’t find the walk was worth the effort. Lots of rocks to climb over & uneven trail. I found it very hard on my knees & hips. There was very little view as you walked through the bush. To be fair I’ve spent a lot of time in the Rocky Mtns of Canada and have seen several glacier lakes. This one wasn’t overly impressive. Gertrude’s saddle was far more interesting with all the small avalanches going off around you (September 2018- was closed when we were there 2 weeks ago)

Reviewed almost 3 years ago

Nicki Chow's avatar

Nicki Chow


Ranking: 10/10

The walk was hard at times and pretty muddy in some spots but worth it at the end. Lake Marian is beautiful and fun to take a dip in after so make sure you bring swimwear. Water was a bit chilly!

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Davina's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful !! I was a bit ill at the time so I found the walk up hill quite hard, but it didn’t take very long and was totally worth it. Stunning. We walked into the bush a bit past the immediate beach to find our own private area. There’s a toilet up there too. I can imagine it could get a bit cramped if you went at a peak hour as there’s not loads of space for people to be there. But so lush for a short walk

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Kay Simpkin's avatar

Kay Simpkin

United Kingdom

Ranking: 8/10

Interesting walk/occasional scramble through the forest to an alpine lake. Time is right and you will have the place all to yourself.

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in March 2017

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Matthew's avatar


United Kingdom

Ranking: 9/10

Just before the Homer Tunnel on the way to Milford Sound this track follows a flowing river before climbing to a stunning alpine lake. While the track is uphill and bumpy in places, it should be achievable for most and is worth the effort. Take swimming shorts in summer.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Justine Langero's avatar

Justine Langero


Ranking: 9/10

Beautiful walk of two hours until the lake, some difficult part on the way with trees on the way.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in October 2016

Anna's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful walk, well marked. Fun scrambling over the rocks to the top. Fantastic views of the lake and waterfalls at the top. Very peaceful.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in November 2016

Joerg's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

Absolutely stunning, even with rain. Do it!

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

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Celine's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful walk in the bush to reach the lake, beautiful colour, beautifull waterfall and an enjoyable walk.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Michael L's avatar

Michael L


Ranking: 9/10

Far from touristic Milford Sound, we have done a walk through bush and near beautiful waterfall to an isolated lake. As usual, the colour of the lake was splendid.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Kristin Pogue's avatar

Kristin Pogue

United States

Ranking: 8/10

Rooty, wet tramp to a tranquil alpine lake.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Stephen Timko's avatar

Stephen Timko

United States

Ranking: 9/10

Steep hike up to the beautiful alpine lake. The rapids/waterfall in the middle of the journey is astounding!! Only issue was that some areas of the trail were flooded, so we had to do some 'creative' stream crossings.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Christian Bobsu's avatar

Christian Bobsu


Ranking: 10/10

The forest, the walk over a bridge, awesome view above the lake, not many places to sit down, good signs.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in March 2016

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

Rankers Owner