Lakes & Rivers


​​​​​​​​Boating, yachting, water and jet-skiing, fishing and swimming are popular activities in Central Otago particularly over Central’s traditional long, hot sunny summers. Central Otago boasts many easily accessible locations for water-based activities.

Enjoy yourself on our waterways, but we encourage you to ensure you know the dangers and rules before you get out on Lake Dunstan.


Lake Dunstan Boating Guide

Dangers to watch out for:

  • The lake level varying by up to one metre.
  • Moving sand bars that create shallow water, particularly in the Kawarau Arm.
  • Unmarked, underwater rocks are present in some areas.
  • Floating material may be present

Speed and Noise:

  • Travel at a safe speed, taking into account the amount of boat traffic in the area, weather conditions and visibility.
  • Do not exceed 5 knots within 50m of any other vessel, raft or swimmer – there is a $300 fine.
  • Have an effective silencing device on your craft.


  • You must carry a correctly sized, serviceable lifejacket or buoyancy aid, for each person on board.
  • Must be immediately available in case of sudden emergency.
  • Skippers are legally responsible for ensuring that lifejackets are worn in situations of high risk.


Lake Dunstan Boating Guide Map



Rules for Lake Dunstan

Water skiers, wake boarders and other towables, make sure you know the rules for Lake Dunstan:

  • Keep right in the lanes.
  • Enter and leave at right-angles to the shore.
  • Have an observer (over 10-years-old) to report any mishap to the skipper.
  • Be courteous at all times to other people or vessels in the lane.
  • No parking of any vessels in the ski lane.
  • Only proceed in an anti-clockwise direction when using the lane.
  • No water-skiing after sunset or before sunrise.
  • Speed and distance rules apply for skiers/wake boarders as well as the towing vessel.
  • People on a personal water craft must have an observer on board at all times.
  • Wear a personal flotation device if you are being towed.
  • Ski access lanes allow powered craft and water-skiers to legally leave or approach the shore at speeds over 5 knots.

See our Boaters' handout sheet and accompanying infringement offences and fees schedule.



Shayne Hitchcock
Lake Dunstan Education Officer
Phone: 027 437 6933

Page reviewed: 30 May 2017 1:24pm