It is a common misconception that Lake Hayes is named after the notorious south seas pirate William Henry (Bully) Hayes. Hayes did reside for a brief time in the Arrowtown, setting up a hotel to cash in on thirsty miners. His exploits were quite notorious but not of a nature to warrant having a lake named after him.
Lake Hayes is referred to as both Hay’s Lake and Lake Hays in the Otago Witness of December 1862. Bully Hayes did not arrive in Arrowtown until the very last days of December 1862 or in early 1863, so the lake could not possibly be named after him.
It is almost beyond doubt that the lake was named after Donald Hay, an early Scottish explorer.
He had been brought to the southern end of Lake Wakatipu by Donald Cameron, an early runholder and explorer, in the middle of winter 1859, and he became the first white sailor on the lake.