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HomeDestinationsLake Wakatipu: Explore Queenstown’s Crown Jewel

Lake Wakatipu: Explore Queenstown’s Crown Jewel

You’ll surely notice the huge lake Queenstown is situated next to when you get there. It was once one of the primary modes of transportation, but nowadays, visitors are in awe of its size, beauty, and surroundings, which have made it famous. If you’re traveling to Queenstown, there are a few things about Lake Wakatipu that you should be aware of because they add to the lake’s impressiveness!

Lake Wakatipu: The Third Largest Lake in New Zealand


Ancient glaciers formed a deep valley into the mountains, which Lake Wakatipu now fills. Observations of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the Remarkables from Fernhill. In Queenstown, a brand-new view is always just around the corner.

The Kawarau River, which starts close to Queenstown, handles Lake Wakatipu’s outflow, with the Dart and Rees Rivers feeding into the lake’s northern end.

The tall mountains, the tallest of which is Mount Earnslaw, surround the lake on all sides in a single glacier-carved trench (2819 meters). The towns of Queenstown, Kingston, Glenorchy, and Kinloch are located close to the lake’s shore.

Due to its peculiar shape, Lake Wakatipu experiences an irregularly big seiche, also known as a “standing wave,” which causes the water to rise and fall by roughly 10 centimeters approximately every 25 minutes. According to Maori myth, this occurrence is caused by the heartbeat of the enormous monster Matau, who is thought to be sleeping at the lake’s bottom.

Lake Wakatipu History


Glaciers created Lake Wakatipu more than 15,000 years ago. The lake wasn’t actually first investigated by a Scottish surveyor named Donald Hay until August 1859. He traveled around the lake in a raft for several days.

Queenstown, once known as “Camptown,” played a significant role in the 1800s gold rush. Lake Wakatipu played a significant role in freshwater provision as well as transportation, much as it does today. Prior to the construction of suitable roads, Glenorchy and other adjacent communities were frequently reached by boat on Lake Wakatipu.

While Lake Wakatipu has benefited the people who live around it, it has also led to issues like flooding. The lake has only one water departure point, but five rivers pour into it, making it simple for the lake level to grow. Over the years, there have been several floods, with the most recent one in 1999 when central Queenstown’s streets were submerged in water. The streets were submerged in water for several days, and businesses shuttered. People also had to relocate.

Read more Lake Wanaka, New Zealand: All You Need To Know For A Trip

The Maori Legend of the Lake


A more colorful explanation for the seiche can be found in Maori legend.

Manata was a local Maori chief’s lovely and gifted daughter. She had a lot of suitors who wanted to marry her, but Matakauri, a commoner, captured her heart. The chief disapproved of Matakauri’s marriage to his daughter because he believed that he was unworthy of her.

Manata was taken hostage and imprisoned in a mountain cave one day by the terrifying giant known as Matau. Her distressed father made a promise that she may wed whoever saved her. Here was the chance for the astute Matakauri. He followed the wind to Matau’s mountain hideout because he knew the nor’wester’s warmth would put the monster to sleep. The cords that held Manata were too strong for Matau to successfully cut while he was asleep. Manata asked Matakauri to go before the giant awoke out of fear that he would be slain. Manata started to cry when Matakauri wouldn’t leave her, and the love in her tears worked its magic to dissolve the ropes so that they could both flee.

They got married after they got back, but they both knew the giant would come back eventually. Matakauri then pursued the nor’wester once more in an effort to track down the giant and ignite his bed. An intense fire started by Matau’s enormous body fat burned a hole more than 400 meters deep and caused the snow to melt, forming Lake Wakatipu. The water is raised and lowered by the giant’s beating heart, which is hidden beneath Pigeon Island and survived the fire.

On a map, pay particular attention to the lake since it resembles a fallen giant. At his knee is Queenstown, his head is Glenorchy, and his feet are Kingston.

5 Fun Things to do in Lake Wakatipu

Scenic Cruise


A picturesque trip on the Spirit of Queenstown is the most spectacular activity you can do on Lake Wakatipu. The trip begins in Queenstown and travels along the western coastline to Glenorchy. The Southern Alps provide some of the most breathtaking vistas as you travel through them, all the while enjoying the creature comforts of an indoor cabin and a fully-licensed bar. You truly won’t miss anything with all the observation decks on board and the breathtaking vistas!



The adventure capital of New Zealand is Queenstown. Extreme sports have completely transformed the area around Queenstown, and the KJet jetboat experience on Lake Wakatipu is no exception. This thrilling sport takes you along the lake and into not one but two of Queenstown’s neighboring rivers after easily departing from the main town pier.

Your knowledgeable local guide will get your heart racing as you race across the shallow waters of the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers while also providing a wealth of information about Queenstown’s past. The highlights include tight corners, 360-degree spins, and some of the greatest vistas available.



Why not try parasailing? Some people claim that the best views are from above. This is an extremely cool excursion on Lake Wakapitu that departs from the main town pier in the middle of town! You will enjoy a really special and lovely perspective of the entire bay and the surrounding area as you soar high over the lake. This will undoubtedly be a remarkable experience, thanks to the sights and the cool breeze in your hair. There are possibilities for tandem and triple parasailing so that you may soar with buddies. The boat is where you take off and land, making this an excellent year-round sport. Stay dry and soar high!

Hydro Attack


On Lake Wakatipu, Hydro Attack is a very distinctive pastime. Queenstown’s Hydro Attack Shark is a thrilling and enjoyable experience. You may go around the lake at up to 80 kph on this enclosed jet ski-like vehicle before plunging below at 40 kph! You may see things differently with the Hydro Shark both above and below the water.

That’s not all, though. Your driver will then return to the surface when the Hydro Shark dives beneath the sea. You will quickly break the water with excitement and force, sending the Hydro Shark into the air before returning to Lake Wakatipu. This is a fantastic exercise to do with your pals!



In recent years, paddle boarding has gained a lot of popularity, and Lake Wakatipu is the ideal location to practice. Explore the bay or relax in the freshwater lake to cool off. The ideal way to enjoy the quiet, cold waters of Lake Wakatipu and some sun is to paddleboard on the lake.

Any visitor to Queenstown must go outside and take advantage of all the lakeside activities since Lake Wakatipu is its lifeblood. There is something for everyone on Lake Wakatipu, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or like the more tranquil activities the lake has to offer.

Related post Top 8 Cheap But Still Interesting Activities In Queenstown For Travelers

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