Sutton Salt Lake – Middlemarch, New Zealand - Atlas Obscura

Sutton Salt Lake

Middlemarch, New Zealand

New Zealand's only inland salt lake goes through a constant cycle of filling, evaporating, and refilling. 


Travel through Otago and you might see Sutton Salt Lake, New Zealand’s only inland salt lake. If you visit before it evaporates, that is.

Though it contains water up to half as salty as seawater when full, the lake is over 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the nearest coast. Located in a shallow basin, its salinity is all thanks to salt produced by a repeated cycle of refill and evaporation created by rain and high winds.

Visit in the winter for your best shot at seeing the lake, but bring your windbreaker.

Know Before You Go

Ask Google for directions to Sutton Salt Lake and you may mistakenly be directed down what is actually a private road with no lake access. You'll need to search for 'Sutton Salt Lake Scenic Reserve', located approximately 9.5 km from Middlemarch, along the unsealed Kidds Road. The reserve entrance is about 2.5km along this road on the left.

The lake is then a one hour return walk from the carpark. Unfortunately, it is not wheelchair accessible. There are also no public toilets in the reserve.

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January 12, 2022

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