Lake Manapouri, Southland, New Zealand
GPS: -45.523617802843, 167.49237168289
Lake Manapouri is located in a sparsely populated and wild region of New Zealand, in the south-west of the South Island (Te Waipounamu). Close to the 45th south parallel, this lake is surrounded by deep fjords and high peaks sculpted by glaciers. It occupies a land of adventure renowned for its calm and silent waters on the fringes of the tourist resort of Queenstown.
Manapouri is the deepest lake in the country (444 meters) and is made up of around 30 islets and virgin beaches spread around the Cathedral range. Formed by the tectonic plates then shaped by the melting of the glaciers only 20,000 years ago (geological era of the Quaternary), Lake Manapouri is part of Fiordland National Park. It is the largest nature reserve in the country and one of the largest protected areas in the world (12,500 km²). Together with the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, Mount Aspiring National Park and Westland Tai Poutini National Park, they form a landscape of rare scenic beauty, listed as a Unesco World Heritage site under the name Te Wāhipounamu. The latter covers 26,000 km² of area and represents 10% of the continental territory of New Zealand.
According to a Māori legend, Lake Manapouri is known as a “lake with a sorrowful heart”. It stretches over four inlets (Hope, North, South and West) with breath-taking landscapes. This natural site is also called Roto-ua (rainy lake) since it rains more than 200 days a year, on average. Fishing and hiking are the main activities of this remote region of Fiordland. The Lake Manapouri region brings together three of the country’s nine Great Walks, the most beautiful New Zealand hiking routes (Milford, Routeburn and Kepler Tracks). Recognized for their spectacular landscapes, these walking trails can take several days to complete. From them you can approach several natural sites (Alpine lakes, mountain passes, deep valleys, profound gorges, virgin forests, waterfalls, wild rivers) by following marked trails, suspension bridges, wooden walkways and boat trips.