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10 Largest Lakes in New Zealand

karlnorling on Flickr

Spoiler alert: most of them are on the South Island.

In New Zealand you are never too far away from water! If it’s not by the fact that you will never be more than 2h30mins away from the sea, it’s because you will be near one of the 775 lakes on New Zealand’s mainland! And in true Kiwi fashion, this top list is celebrating the biggest of New Zealand’s bodies of water!

8 out of our top 10 largest lakes are formed by glaciers on the South Island, while the rest are here thanks to volcanic activity creating huge crater lakes! All of them offer something different in terms of appearance and watersport activities, so try to tick them off your bucket list while travelling in New Zealand.

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1. LAKE TAUPO

This 623 square kilometre volcanic lake trumps this top 10 list by far! It is almost twice the size than the second lake on this list and is said to be bigger than the whole of Singapore. The whole Lake Taupo area is well worth exploring in depth – start with our Lake Taupo Guide.

Location: North Island
Tourism NZ

2. LAKE TE ANAU

The first of a long list of glacial lakes is Lake Te Anau which is 348 square kilometres. The town of Te Anau is also your starting point to explore the majestic Fiordland National Park.

Location: South Island
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3. LAKE WAKATIPU

Welcoming Queenstown on its shore, Lake Wakatipu is simply unmissable when visiting New Zealand’s South Island. At 289 square kilometres it gets the bronze medal of this list.

Location: South Island
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4. LAKE ELLESMERE (TE WAIHORA)

This is the shallowest lake on the list with a maximum depth of only 2 metres for a 182 square kilometre size! It is actually one of New Zealand’s most prominent wetlands.

Location: South Island
Phillip Capper on Wikipedia

5. LAKE WANAKA

So close! By being only 2 square kilometres smaller than Lake Te Waihora, Lake Wanaka drops to number 5 on our list. The surroundings of the lake were home to many Lord of the Rings’ filming locations – good to know for those with an agenda!

Location: South Island
 Ghislain Mary on Flickr

6. LAKE MANAPOURI

The deepest lake on this list is Lake Manapouri. Although it is only 143 square kilometres, making it 6th on our list, it has a maximum depth of 444 metres!

Location: South Island
Pseudopanax at English Wikipedia on Wikipedia

7. LAKE HAWEA

Bordering Mt Aspiring National Park, this long and narrow lake covers 143 square kilometres. The lake is a great escape from busy Queenstown and Wanaka.

Location: South Island
Yogi de at en.wikipedia

8. LAKE PUKAKI

Edging the Mackenzie Basin, the famous 99 square kilometres milky blue lake surrounded by a mountainous landscape is a typical New Zealand postcard picture.

Location: South Island
 karlnorling on Flickr

9. LAKE TEKAPO

Slightly smaller than its neighbour Lake Pukaki at only 87 square kilometres, Lake Tekapo compensates with colourful flora and stunning night skies. We strongly recommend spending time in the Lake Tekapo area!

Location: South Island
Pixabay

10. LAKE ROTORUA

Back on the North Island to finish this “Top 10 List” with Lake Rotorua, a 80 square kilometre volcanic lake. The lake is part of the many geothermal wonders of the area.

Location: North Island
Tourism NZ

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