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New Zealand Lakes

New Zealand Lakes

As well as its many rivers, New Zealand has a large number of lakes. In total the country has over 700 bodies of water with the majority in the South Island. Many are formed from the highland glaciers found here.

Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo - the most photographed lake in the country

The largest lake in New Zealand is Lake Taupo and, at 623 square km, it is twice the size of the next largest lake, Lake Te Anau. The deepest lake in the country, and one of the deepest in the world, is Lake Hauroko in Fiordland National Park, with a maximum depth of 462 meters. Lake Wakatipu is the longest lake in New Zealand, at 80 km.

Second on the list of largest New Zealand lakes is the glacial Lake Te Anau also in Fiordland National Park. The third is Lake Wakatipu with Queenstown on its shore.

Like rivers, the lakes in New Zealand are often known by their Maori names. The Maori word for "lake" is "Te."

Top Ten Lakes in New Zealand

The full top ten is:

1) Lake Taupo (North Island)

2) Lake Te Anau (South Island)

3) Lake Wakatipu (South Island)

4) Lake Wanaka (South Island)

5) Lake Ellesmere (Te Waihora)  (South Island)

5) Te Whanga Lagoon  (Chatham Island)

7) Lake Pukaki  (South Island)

8) Lake Manapouri (South Island)

9) Lake Hawea  (South Island)

10) Lake Tekapo (South Island)

Lake Pukaki
Lake Pukaki - the bluest lake in New Zealand


As well as being beautiful to look at the lakes in New Zealand are both a source of drinking water and hydroelectricity. Hydroelectricity is the main source of renewable energy in New Zealand producing over 50% of the energy generated in the country. The majority of it is produced in South Island and most of it is consumed in North Island.

Hydroelectricity production in the country dates back over a century. The Lake Coleridge power station, for example, began life way back in 1914.

There is considerable opposition to hydroelectric power on environmental grounds in New Zealand.


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