Lake Te Anau

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Lake Te Anau
On Lake Te Anau.jpg
NZ-L Te Anau.png
Lake Te Anau
Location Southland District, Southland Region, South Island
Coordinates 45°12′S167°48′E / 45.200°S 167.800°E / -45.200; 167.800 Coordinates: 45°12′S167°48′E / 45.200°S 167.800°E / -45.200; 167.800
Primary inflows Eglinton River, Clinton River, Worsley River, Glaisnock River, Wapiti River, Doon River, McKenzie Burn, Upukerora River
Primary outflows Waiau River
Basin  countriesNew Zealand
Max. length65 km (40 mi)
Surface area344 km2 (133 sq mi)
Max. depth417 m (1,368 ft)
Surface elevation210 m (690 ft)
Settlements Te Anau

Lake Te Anau is in the southwestern corner of the South Island of New Zealand. The lake covers an area of 344 km2 (133 sq mi), making it the second-largest lake by surface area in New Zealand (after Lake Taupo) and the largest in the South Island. It is the largest lake in Australasia by fresh water volume. [1]


Lake Te Anau Anz-0326.jpg
Lake Te Anau

The main body of the lake runs north-south, and is 65 km in length. Three large fiords form arms to the lake on its western flank: North Fiord, Middle Fiord and South Fiord. These are the only inland fiords that New Zealand has, the other 14 are out on the coast. Several small islands lie in the entrance to Middle Fiord, which forks partway along its length into northwest and southwest arms. The surface of the lake is at an altitude of 210 m. It has a maximum depth of 417 m, [2] so much of its bed lies below sea level, with the deepest part of the lake being 226 metres below sea level.

Several rivers feed the lake, of which the most important is the Eglinton River, which joins the lake from the east, opposite the entrance to North Fiord. The outflow is the Waiau River, which flows south for several kilometres into Lake Manapouri. The town of Te Anau lies at the south-eastern corner of the lake, close to the outflow.

Most of the lake is within Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site, the latter of which was officially recognised internationally in 1990. Other than the Te Anau township, the only human habitation close to the lake is the farming settlement of Te Anau Downs, close to the mouth of the Eglinton River. Between these two settlements the land is rolling hill country, but elsewhere the land is mountainous, especially along its western shore, where the Kepler and Murchison Mountains rise 1,400 m above the surface of the lake.

Lake Te Anau was important for the Ngai Tahu iwi [lower-alpha 1] in pre-European times as the area was a traditional stopping point on their trails between the east and west coasts of the South Island of New Zealand, where they obtained food and resources. The lake was first discovered by European explorers Charles Naim and William Stephen in 1852.

Two New Zealand Great Walks start at the lake. The Milford Track starts at the northern tip of the lake and the Kepler Track starts and ends at the south tip of the lake at the Waiau River.


The English translation of the Maori name Te Anau has been disputed. It was supposed by many that Te Anau was the name of the granddaughter of Hekeia, a chief of the Waitaha tribe, whose name now belongs to a mountain on the Longwood Range. [3] [4] When the Te Ana-au Caves were rediscovered in 1948, earlier explanations of the name were replaced by the interpretation of the full name Te Ana-au, Maori for 'The cave of swirling water'. [5]

Flora and fauna

Numerous species of wildlife and vegetation are found in the watershed of Lake Te Anau. Vegetative understory includes numerous fern species including the crown fern, Blechnum discolor . [6]

Several species of endangered birds live around the shores of Lake Te Anau, notably the takahē (Notornis hochstetteri). An area between the Middle and South Fiords called the Murchison Mountains is a sanctuary set aside for these birds. The western shore of the lake also features the Te Ana-au Caves.


Throughout summer the lake is used for boating, fishing, kayaking, swimming and access to Fiordland National Park. The lake is home to both the Marakura Yacht Club and the Te Anau Boating Club. [7] Every year on the weekend of Labour Day a fishing competition is held. [8]

See also


  1. The Maori word for tribe

Related Research Articles

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Doubtful Sound Fjord in New Zealand

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Te Anau Town in New Zealand

Te Anau is a town in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand. It is on the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau in Fiordland. Lake Te Anau is the largest lake in the South Island and within New Zealand second only to Lake Taupo. The 2013 census recorded the town's population as 1,911. The town has a wide range of accommodation, with over 4,000 beds available in summer.

Manapouri Place in New Zealand

Manapouri is a small town in Southland / Fiordland, in the southwest corner of the South Island, in New Zealand. The township is the westernmost municipality in New Zealand. Located at the edge of the Fiordland National Park, on the eastern shore of Lake Manapouri, close to its outflow into the Waiau River, tourist boat services are based in the town.

Eglinton River river of New Zealand

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Lake Monowai lake in Southland Region, New Zealand

Lake Monowai is a large lake (31 km²) in the southern part of Fiordland National Park, in New Zealand's South Island, 120 kilometres northwest of Invercargill. At an altitude of 180 metres in a long curved valley, the lake appears on maps shaped like a letter "U". The western part of the lake is set in beautiful mountainous country. It is drained in the northeast by the short Monowai River, which enters the Waiau River eight kilometres to the northeast.

Lake Hauroko lake in New Zealand

Lake Hauroko is located in a mountain valley in Fiordland National Park in the South Island of New Zealand. The long S-shaped lake is 30 kilometres in length and covers an area of 63 km². The surface is at an altitude of 150 metres (490 ft) above sea level, and the lake is 462 metres (1,516 ft) deep. It is New Zealand's deepest lake.

Te Ana-au Caves cave

The Te Ana-au caves are a culturally and ecologically important system of limestone caves on the western shore of Lake Te Anau, in the southwest of New Zealand. It was discovered in 1948 by Lawson Burrows, who found the upper entry after three years of searching, following clues in old Māori legends. It later became a major tourist attraction for the area, as the part of the caverns close to the lake shore is home to glowworms. The unofficial name used by the national caving association is Aurora. The caves are geologically young and hence there is only one tiny stalactite.

Waiau River (Southland) river in New Zealand

Waiau River is the largest river in the Southland Region of New Zealand. It is the outflow of Lake Te Anau, flowing from it into Lake Manapouri 10 kilometres (6 mi) to the south, and from there flows south for 70 kilometres (43 mi) before reaching the Foveaux Strait 8 kilometres (5 mi) south of Tuatapere. It also takes water from Lake Monowai.

Kepler Track New Zealand tramping track

The Kepler Track is a 60 km (37 mi) circular hiking track which travels through the landscape of the South Island of New Zealand and is situated near the town of Te Anau. The track passes through many landscapes of the Fiordland National Park such as rocky mountain ridges, tall mossy forests, lake shores, deep gorges, rare wetlands and rivers. Like the mountains it traverses, the track is named after Johannes Kepler. The track is one of the New Zealand Great Walks and is administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Kepler Challenge

The Kepler Challenge Mountain Run is the premier mountain running event in New Zealand and follows the 60 km Kepler Track through the Fiordland National Park. It has been held annually since 1988, and draws competitors from throughout New Zealand and around the world. Around 450 runners enter the event with nearly all completing the demanding course.

Pomona Island island in New Zealand

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Real Journeys

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Southland, New Zealand Region of New Zealand

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Te Houhou / George Sound fjord in New Zealand

Te Houhou / George Sound is a fiord of the South Island of New Zealand. It is one of the fiords that form the coast of Fiordland.


  1. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 May 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Lakes in New Zealand". Ministry for the Environment. Archived from the original on 15 October 2008.
  3. McLintock, A. H. (1966). "Te Anau, Lake". Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  4. Taylor, W. A. (1952). "Murihiki". Lore and History of the South Island Maori. Bascands. p. 148. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  5. "Te Anau". NZHistory. Ministry of Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  6. C. Michael Hogan. 2009
  7. "Te Anau Boating Club" . Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  8. "Te Anau Manapouri Fishing Classic" . Retrieved 15 February 2017.