There are 3,820 lakes in New Zealand with a surface area larger than one hectare. The lakes are of varying types and origins. The Lakes in New Zealand cover about 1.3 percent of the land area.
The Maori word for lake is ‘roto’ which explains why many New Zealand lakes start with this. Lake Rotorua, for example means ‘long lake’, Lake Rotomanu means ‘lake of birds’ and Lake Rotoiti translates to ‘small lake’.
Many of the lakes in the central North Island area are volcanic crater lakes, while the majority of the lakes near the Southern Alps were carved by glaciers. Hydroelectric reservoirs are common in South Canterbury, Central Otago and along the Waikato River
A New Zealand lake can be a destination in itself or a moment of tranquillity on the way to somewhere else. Discover dune lakes, mountain lakes and volcanic lakes. Some are stocked with trout, others are strangely coloured and there are one or two that are believed to be bottomless!
The lakes are not only a haven for water sports activities such as cruising, jet boating and fishing, but many are record holders! Lake Taupo in the central North Island, for example, is Australasia’s largest lake and was formed by a massive volcanic eruption, while Frying Pan Lake in Waimangu Volcanic Valley near Rotorua is the world’s largest hot spring.
One of New Zealand’s most famous lakeside resorts is Queenstown. Otherwise known as New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown is located in a stunning setting at the shores of Lake Wakatipu, lorded over by the majestic Remarkables mountain range.
90 minutes from Queenstown, Wanaka, on the shores of Lake Wanaka, is another popular lakeside spot with a myriad of water activities on offer. In the North Island, the bustling town of Taupo sits alongside Lake Taupo, a giant expanse of water popular for swimming, boating and fishing.
Lake Rotorua and neighbouring lakes are popular for boating, fishing and swimming, with some containing geothermal hot-spots. Lakes such as Lake Te Anau (New Zealand’s second largest lake) and Lake Manapouri in Fiordland offer a very different experience.
Here, the tranquillity of Fiordland National Park reflects in the calm waters and makes for a truly peaceful getaway.
The Mackenzie Country in the central South Island is famous for its stunning turquoise lakes. Rain or shine, here the waters always sparkle in a bright blue, a colour created by glacial deposits.
The most famous lake of the region is Lake Tekapo. Lorded over by New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mount Cook, the stunning setting is also home to the Church of the Good Shepherd, one of New Zealand’s most photographed buildings.