Famous lakes of New Zealand

Famous lakes of New Zealand

New Zealand is blessed with impressive wildlife, stunning natural features, unique flora and fauna, as well as a rich culture. Famous lakes in New Zealand, such as Lake Tekapo and Lake Wakatipu, add to the country’s allure. It is no exaggeration that the forests, mountains, and green hills in New Zealand all look straight out of a movie.


This picturesque destination offers the most beautiful natural scenery to its visitors. Adding to its collection are the captivating and tranquil lakes.  

The beautiful mountain ranges of New Zealand

The beautiful mountain ranges of New Zealand

Eons ago, glacial movements created close to 3,820 lakes, which now grace New Zealand with a variety of scenic landscapes. These lakes, scattered throughout the country, even extend into national parks.


Lakes in New Zealand are well-known among visitors solely due to their natural beauty. One can even come across different types of lakes that differ from one another in features. 


Here are seven famous and breathtaking lakes of New Zealand that you should not miss during your trip at all costs:


1. Lake Tekapo 

Lake Tekapo is one of the three lakes that run from north to south in the Mackenzie Basin, situated on the South Island. This lake is the second-largest in New Zealand and attracts many visitors. 


The lake is fed by the Goodley River, which supplies the high-altitude lake with cool and clear water all year round. Lake Tekapo is also part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making stargazing an ultimate experience. 

Lake Tekapo during the spring season

Lake Tekapo during the spring season

There are a few resorts in the nearby town, and there is also a regional park near the lake that provides various recreational activities. Lake Tekapo is also a popular day-trip destination, as it is located just 100 km west of Christchurch.  


The majestic snow-covered mountains towering over the lake and the beautiful wildflowers that bloom in spring make this lake one of the prettiest. 


Visitors can perform activities such as skiing, stargazing, and sightseeing near Lake Tekapo.


2. Lake Wakatipu 

The Wakatipu is another famous lake in New Zealand, situated in the South Island Otago Region. Measuring up to 80 km, it holds the distinction of being the longest lake in the country.

The lightning bolt-shaped Lake Wakatipu, considered a gem in Queenstown, is surrounded by high-altitude majestic mountains that are often snow-covered and low, rocky hills.

lake wakatipu

lake wakatipu

The best way to enjoy your trip to Lake Wakatipu is by taking a boat tour. The tours offer views that are not visible from the shoreline. There are certain designated areas for swimming near the lake, complete with white sandy beaches. 


Near Wakatipu, visitors can enjoy cruising, trout fishing, and kayaking.


3. Lake Wanaka 

 Lake Wanaka is located in New Zealand’s South Island and sits nearly 1000 feet above sea level. Thus, this lake is aptly named the Southern Alps. 


Lake Wanaka is close to Mount Aspiring National Park and perfect for those looking to be away from the crowds.

lake wanaka

lake wanaka

The towns near Lake Wanaka have trendy restaurants, shops, and galleries that offer the best way to spend time in the afternoon. The area around the lake has four distinct seasons, yet no matter the visit period, Lake Wanaka mesmerizes with its beauty. 


Visitors can try out various adventurous activities such as watersports, cycling, hiking, and climbing.


4. Lake Pukaki 

Giving the perfect views of snowy Mount Cook, Lake Pukaki is one of the large lakes that border the Mackenzie basin. It is located in the central portion of the South Island and at an equal distance from the Pacific and the Tasman Sea coasts. 


Lake Pukaki is one of the lakes that was formed by glacial action millennia ago. The lake is surrounded by New Zealand’s breathtaking and picturesque alpine landscapes.

The dreamlike Lake Pukaki

The dreamlike Lake Pukaki

Along with having magnificent views of the tallest peak in the country, Mount Cook, the lake’s water often has a cloudy yet aquamarine hue. This makes it perfect to photograph the surreal scenery of Lake Pukaki. 


It is interesting to note that this location was also featured in the famous ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie series! 


Visitors can enjoy activities such as various winter snow sports, stargazing, and hiking near Lake Pukaki.


5. Emerald Lakes 

The Emerald Lakes are situated in Tongariro National Park and are also part of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The Alpine Crossing is a full-day hike and one of the popular outdoor activities visitors can enjoy. 


The lakes are defined by New Zealand’s stunning volcanic formations, which give them a distinct feel. The beautiful sapphire colour of the lake is due to the minerals dissolved in the water. 

The volcanoes surrounding the Emerald Lakes

The volcanoes surrounding the Emerald Lakes

Many of the Emerald Lakes’ waters take on different hues, such as jade, aquamarine, and turquoise, which make them equally unique and fascinating. 


Visitors can enjoy the activities of trekking and photography at the Emerald Lakes.


6. Lake Taupo 

The country’s North Island houses Lake Taupo, formed from the volcano of the same name. It holds the title of the largest lake in the country by surface area. The lake is roughly the size of Singapore so one can expect its humongous beauty. 


Due to its volcanic birth, Lake Taupo is home to year-round steam vents, geysers, and bubbling mud pools. In many areas of the lake, the water is pleasantly warm because of the geothermal forces below the surface. There are designated beach areas that are perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

Tourists parasailing at Lake Toupa

Tourists parasailing at Lake Toupa

The lake provides spectacular videos of the hovering mountains and the nature of Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The Mine Bay Maori Carvings near Lake Taupo make for an interesting cultural attraction. 


Lake Taupo is also conveniently close to the enormous Huka Falls, which is one of the most amazing tourist sites in the country. 


There is a wide range of activities for visitors near the lake, including skydiving, bungee jumping, water sports, and a geothermal hot pool.


7. Lake Matheson 

Ancient woodlands surround Lake Matheson, which is known for its brown, tea-colored waters. The lake also encompasses the Clearwater Suspension Bridge, which offers the best views of the surrounding area. 


The lake has a large species of eels that are often spotted near the surface. There are a variety of water birds, including indigenous birds, that are seen near Lake Matheson, which makes it a haven for birdwatchers.  

Mount Cook's reflection on Lake Matheson

Mount Cook’s reflection on Lake Matheson

The heavenly backdrops of Mount Cook and Mount Aoraki make the lake appear scenic. Several trails lead to various vantage points and offer unobstructed views of the lake and surrounding area.  


At Lake Matheson, you can enjoy activities like nature walks, photography, and bird watching.


These famous lakes of New Zealand should unquestionably be on your bucket list the next time you travel to the country. Which of the seven lakes did you find the most stunning?


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