Lake Daniells

Lake Daniells (also known as Lake Daniell) is a picturesque lake heavily clad in native bush located halfway between the West Coast and East Coast of the South Island in the Lewis Pass National Reserve. It is a popular destination for trampers of all ability levels as the 8.5 kilometre walk in is not only an easy gentle incline, but the scenery is made up of spectacular native flora, fauna and numerous small streams as you walk alongside the Alfred River.  When the end of the track is reached you arrive at the Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut with stunning views overlooking the lake.




The south end of Lake Daniells

This is the end that the hut is located on and the first end you reach from the walking track. At the most west side of the south end is an outlet (Frazer Stream) that drains the lake with a reasonable flow when water levels are high, however in times of low water levels throughout summer it is reduced to a very low flow.  The lake bed is predominately made up of weed beds and silty material around the outlet area and is quite shallow.  The majority of the stretch east of the outlet has a long and fairly shallow rocky/silty lake bed before transitioning to the drop-off. Half way along the south end right outside the hut is the jetty that can provide a great vantage point for sight fishing on calm still days. This entire stretch can be walked and sight fished keeping in mind at times of high water levels thy deep wading is required to make your way around the lake edge.

Looking out from in front the hut

The corner where the Frazer Stream outlet is

The east side of Lake Daniells

All the way along the east side is a well established walking track. At any point you can access the lake edge with some sections offering easier access through the bush than others.  Shoreline spin fishermen are able to find many sections were gaps in the bush allow a cast from the bank however fly fisherman will need to enter the water for enough room to perform a roll cast, or wade out even further to get a decent back cast. The lake bed is a silty material but quite stable making for easy wading and stalking.

Easy to find and follow track

The north end of Lake Daniells

All the way along the north end is a walking track similar to the east side. The lake bed material along this stretch is predominately medium/fine gravel.  Shoreline spin fishermen will find gaps in the bush to make casts however like the east side, fly fisherman will most likely find it easier to enter the water to get a line out. The entire stretch can be successfully waded and stalked.

The west side of Lake Daniells

This stretch of the lake is hard up against a very steep face heavily clad with thick bush, it is the most difficult side to access.  You can clearly see where people have walked this edge before but it certainly isn't easy going, there is a lot of climbing and scrambling across steep sections.  Shoreline spin fishermen will find it hard to get a line out due to the bush protruding right out into the water, fly fisherman with a good roll cast prepared to do some deep wading on the other hand will be able to take advantage of this and fish water that gets far less attention.  There are a lot of logs submerged along this stretch. At times of high water levels it is often only possible to wade approximately three quarters of this stretch from the outlet end up.  After this point the drop-off becomes more abrupt, the water becomes deeper, and large trees branches protrude out into the water blocking your path.  It can be more accessible at times of lower water levels.

The yellow section indicates difficult access

Thick overhanging bush the length of the lake

In this photo you can easily see the protruding bush and the immediate deep water once you reach the corner and hit the west side

It is hard to tell by this photo but access along the west side is steep requiring careful footing. Also notice the difficulity of accessing the water due to the overhanging trees

General fishing in Lake Daniells

There is a reasonable number of fish present considering the amount of attention this lake gets however the average size is quite small at about 2 to 2 ½ pounds. The odd larger fish is present but they are often well aware of attempts to catch them and require some stealth to catch. Fish patrol all areas of the lake so success can be had almost anywhere, you can even walk right out from the hut and catch fish from the jetty. Fish can be successfully caught both on the spin rod and fly rod. It is not essential to have waders to fish this lake, however having them makes accessing some sections of this lake significantly easier, especially in times of high water levels. Normally, periods of high water levels are around the cooler months meaning wading without waders will be painfully cold and impossible for long periods. Fish feeding routines can be fickle, warm still days that encourage insect hatching can be productive one day but not the next, on cold, rainy or windy days fishing can prove challenging.

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Lake Daniells Fishing Information

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Author of this article: ADVGD(366)