Lake Daniell

Lake Daniell

Lake Daniell is a classic overnight hike in Lewis Pass. It is popular among families with younger kids that enjoy hiking. With the track being well maintained and easy to follow, it makes for a good first overnight hike. It takes approximately 3 hours to reach the hut according to DOC, the trail takes you through native forest and alongside a winding stream. I would advise bringing a tent if you consider hiking into Lake Daniell over a long weekend. It may be busy over this time and you may find it difficult to find a bed.


3 hours


8.4 km


240 m


BT22 | BT23



In Detail

Be aware that Mason Nicholls Memorial Hut will be closed from the end of April 2019 until February 2020 to allow for a new hut to be built in its place. Instead of staying at the hut bring a tent and camp out close to the lakefront to enjoy this beautiful location.

Getting there


The trail starts from Marble Hill Campsite where there is plenty of car parking off the road. Ensure you take all your valuables with you, Lewis Pass is infamous for valuables being stolen. Insect repellant is essential on this hike to keep those sandflies from biting you. It takes around two and a half hours to reach the carpark from Christchurch according to Google maps.

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As it shows on the DOC sign, it takes around 3 hours to Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut depending on how fast you walk. A good way to keep track of how far you’ve covered is by tracking your hike on your smartphone, it’s 8.4km to the Hut. Sluice Box is the first bridge along the trail where you cross the emerald blue waters of the Maruia River.

It only takes five minutes to reach the Sluice Box. From here the forest becomes dense and wild. With the water from the lake flowing right down to the start of the track. It is a beautiful trail for a meander through the forest.

Walking over the Sluice Box

The track is smooth with little climbs and descents. There are some smaller points of interest along the way, which make the journey enjoyable. They include a tree which has grown in the shape of a goal post, Troll Bridges, clearings and a number of small waterfalls to admire. At the approximate halfway point of the track, there is a ‘Troll Bridge’ marked with a DOC sign.

At the time of walking the track, we were able to spectate a number of native birds including robins and fantails. The robins were especially friendly, almost landing on our hiking boots to say hello. Thanks to the efforts of DOC setting up a number of traps along the track, hopefully, the numbers of native birds in the area will continue to increase.

Lake Daniell

Lake Daniell itself is a large lake in the middle of the forest. The first view of the lake comes through the trees. It’s another 10 minutes to Manson Memorial Hut. Looking towards the lake there is a small Jetty that makes for some picturesque photos. There are even a number of trout that swim in the lake. You are able to fish at the lake between 1st October through until the 30th of April. You can find more information on fishing at Lake Daniell on NZ fishing.

The water is incredibly clear. Later in the evening, there were a number of eels that come out. Sitting on the edge of the jetty is definitely the best spot to watch the sunset. The lake does, unfortunately, attract a number of sand flies when it is damp and warm. Make sure you put on plenty of insect repellant before leaving the hut!

Mason Nicholls Memorial Hut

Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut near Lake Daniell is a large tidy hut that is serviced by DOC. As payment for using the hut, you must buy a serviced hut ticket. You can purchase these from any good outdoor retailer or DOC visitor’s centre. Leave the deposit tag in the metal box which is usually close to the door. There are 24 bunks in the hut laid out in Maori Bunk style. Firewood, fireplace, and mattresses are provided but you will need to bring your own cooking equipment.

Toilets are around the back of the hut, you can spot them to the right in the picture above. They are state of the art and high tech for New Zealand outdoor huts. Netting has been fitted to the windows however over time sandflies still end up getting inside the hut. Wrap up tight in your sleeping bag, apply plenty of insect repellant and open the door only when necessary.

Remember, before you leave the hut to sweep the floor, write in the hut book, take all your rubbish out with you and flip all the mattresses up so that they are leaning against the wall. This leaves the hut tidy for the next group to enjoy.

In Manson Memorial Hut


Lake Daniell is a jewel in the forest that is perfect for a family first overnight hike. It is popular amongst those both on the West Coast and the East Coast, especially over public holidays. If you ever go then make sure that you also bring a tent or tarp to camp out under. It does not require a high level of fitness if you do only have a shorter amount of time it is easy enough to complete within a day.

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1 comment

  1. Hey great start on your blog….keep it up. FYI the Manson Nichols hut is now closed as DOC are building a new 24 bunk hut at Lake Daniells, it is going to be on the hut booking system from February 2020. They are also upgrading the campsite including a new cooking shelter and more camping space. In the intrim you can still camp at the site first come-first served!