Lake Paringa is one of the West Coast’s natural treasures.
It marks the beginning of the botanical anomaly known as the “beech gap”. The podocarp rainforest regenerated after the glaciers had scoured the region, over 18,000 years ago. As you drive up the West Coast road you will not see another beech tree until you reach the Taramakau River just south of Greymouth.
Adjacent to Lake Paringa is the Lake Paringa Lodge, a haven for fishermen and hunters, with a range of accommodation options.
To the north on the Paringa River is the South Westland Salmon Farm Café, a boutique farm with a café specialising in fresh local salmon dishes.
There is a Department of Conservation campsite with a basic toilet block, picnic facilities and 12 tent sites.
Things to do
Birdwatchers will enjoy roosting here for a while to look for the rare Australasian crested grebes, scaups, shovelers, mallard ducks, black swans, and black shags on the lake. In the forest, fern birds, kaka, kakariki, bush falcons, and kereru (New Zealand native pigeon) can be found.
You can try bat spotting at night when mouse-sized bats fly from their nests in hollow tree trunks.
The lake is a good spot for swimming as well as fishing. Brown trout can be caught all year round, and the salmon season runs from the 1 October to the 31 March. Windbag Creek feeds into the lake by the boat ramp at the Department of Conservation campsite and is known for its spawning salmon frenzies. See www.nzfishing.com for more information.
The lake is 50 kilometres north of Haast and about a 35-minute drive on State Highway 6. It is a one-hour drive south of Fox Glacier village.