The lake is part of the Lake Sumner Forest Park, which also contains Loch Katrine, Lake Sheppard, Lake Taylor, and Lake Mason.
The lake, and the surrounding forest park area, is a very popular destination for tourists with an interest in a variety of outdoor activities.
The Lake Sumner Forest Park is largely constituted of beech forest, low forest, and shrubland on previously burnt areas. There is also subalpine shrubland, alpine snow tussockland, and tussock grassland on the east side of the park, which is drier.
The park is also known for having 10 species of native fish within its various bodies of water.
The birdlife is also abundant, with blue duck, yellowhead, kea, New Zealand falcon, long tailed bat, yellow crowned parakeet, and the great spotted kiwi are all present.
What to Do – Lake Sumner
One of the main attractions, especially in the Lake Sumner Forest Park, is walking and tramping.
The park is home to seven wonderful walking areas. Here is a quick guide to walking within the park:
1) Doubtful Valley Track & Routes: Doubtful Valley, located within the Forest Park, is home to a variety of different routes. However, walkers should be warned that the trails within the valley are quite difficult and should only be attempted by advanced or expert level trampers. Doubtful Valley is around 165 kilometres from Christchurch.
2) Harper Pass Route: This is an advanced level tramping track that will take the average walkers around 4-5 days to complete. Prior to European settlement, Harper Pass was the main pathway to and from the west coast for Maori greenstone traders.
3) Hope Valley (Windy Point) Tracks & Routes: Similarly to Doubtful Valley, Hope Valley is located within the Forest Park and is home to a variety of different tracks and trails. Also, similarly to Doubtful Valley, the trails are quite difficult and should only be attempted by advanced to expert level trampers. Hope Valley is approximately 160 kilometres from Christchurch.
4) Hurunui Swingbridge Tracks & Routes: There are several tracks that begin at the end of the swingbridge at the end of Lake Sumner Road. These tracks are quite difficult and should only be attempted by advanced to expert level walkers and trampers.
5) Jollie Brook Circuit: As the name suggests, the Jollie Brook Circuit is a circuit track that starts and begins at Lake Sumner Road within the Lake Sumner Forest Park. The track is quite difficult and it is recommended for advanced to expert level walkers and trampers.
6) Nina Valley Tracks & Routes: Nina Valley is yet another valley situated within the Forest Park that is home to a series of different trails and tracks. The valley is accessed by a swingbridge over the Lewis River.
Like most of the tracks within the park, the network within Nina Valley is quite difficult and is only recommended for advanced or expert level walkers and trampers.
7) Tui Track Link from Boyle Village: Walkers can find a number of tracks that connect with the networks in Hope Valley and Doubtful Valley from the village of Boyle. These walks will take around three hours and the track is only recommended for advanced level walkers.
If walking isn’t for you, or you want another experience from your time at Lake Sumner, the lake, and the surrounding area, also have a variety of other offers for visitors.
The region is very popular as a destination for hunting, trout fishing, whitewater kayaking, and mountain biking. On top of that, the area’s remote location and difficult vehicle access means that the area is seldom crowded, even in the peak travel seasons.
The park is home to a few Department of Conservation huts that are excellent options for those hoping to spend multiple days at the park or near the lake. There are also camping areas at Loch Katrine, and Lake Taylor, right off the Lake Sumner Road. Additionally camping is located in Deer Valley right off the Lewis Pass Highway.
Travelling from Abroad?
Lake Sumner and the Lake Sumner Forest Park is a bit difficult to get to. It is very remote and there is limited road access. However, the park is around 100 kilometres from Christchurch. Travellers visiting from abroad are best suited to flying into Christchurch and then renting a vehicle to drive the remaining distance to the park.