Mina Cropper

Mina Cropper

Published: 15 Sep 2023

Source: Radfordsonthelake.co.nz

Lake Te Anau, located in the beautiful Fiordland region of New Zealand, is a stunning natural wonder that captivates visitors with its sheer beauty and awe-inspiring features. This magnificent lake is the largest one on the South Island, stretching over an impressive 344 square kilometers.

What sets Lake Te Anau apart from other lakes is not only its size but also its extraordinary charm and significance. From its crystal-clear waters to its surrounding snow-capped mountains and lush native forests, Lake Te Anau offers a breathtaking backdrop for any nature enthusiast or adventure seeker.

But there’s more to Lake Te Anau than meets the eye. In this article, we will delve into 16 astonishing facts about Lake Te Anau that will leave you amazed and eager to explore this remarkable destination. So, let’s dive in and discover the wonders of Lake Te Anau!

Table of Contents

The Largest Lake in the South Island

Lake Te Anau is the largest lake in the South Island of New Zealand and the second-largest lake in the country, spanning an impressive area of 344 square kilometers. Its vast size makes it a significant landmark and a popular tourist destination.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lake Te Anau is located within the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area, recognized by UNESCO for its outstanding natural and cultural values. This designation highlights the lake’s pristine beauty and its importance in preserving unique ecosystems and landscapes.

Fiordland National Park’s Gateway

Situated at the southwestern edge of Fiordland National Park, Lake Te Anau serves as the gateway to this breathtaking wilderness area. Visitors can explore the park’s majestic mountains, deep fiords, and pristine rainforests, all accessible from the shores of the lake.

Crystal Clear Waters

The pristine waters of Lake Te Anau are renowned for their crystal clarity, allowing for excellent visibility and creating a stunning reflection of the surrounding mountains. This clarity also makes the lake ideal for various water activities such as boating, kayaking, and fishing.

Depths of Mystery

With a maximum depth of 417 meters, Lake Te Anau holds a sense of mystery beneath its shimmering surface. Its depths are home to unique species of fish, including the endemic Te Anau lamprey, adding to the intrigue and diversity of the lake’s ecosystem.

Underground Wonder: Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Located on the western shore of Lake Te Anau, the Te Anau Glowworm Caves are a captivating natural wonder. Guided tours take visitors through a network of limestone caves, showcasing a mesmerizing display of glowworms illuminating the darkness like a starry night sky.

Scenic Walking Trails

Around Lake Te Anau, there are numerous scenic walking trails for nature enthusiasts to explore. The famous Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, offers breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains, providing an unforgettable hiking experience.

Home to a Diverse Birdlife

Lake Te Anau provides a habitat for a wide range of bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. From the elegant and graceful t?turiwhatu (banded dotterel) to the magnificent t?eke (South Island saddleback), bird lovers can spot a variety of feathered inhabitants along the lake’s shores.

Natural Hydroelectric Power

With its abundant water resources, Lake Te Anau plays a vital role in generating hydroelectric power for the region. The nearby Te Anau Power Station harnesses the flow of water from the lake, providing clean and renewable energy to the local communities.

A Starry Sky Reserve

Te Anau, the town located on the shores of Lake Te Anau, has earned the prestigious status of being a Dark Sky Reserve. The area boasts exceptionally clear night skies, providing incredible opportunities for stargazing and witnessing the wonders of the universe.

Rich Maori Cultural Heritage

Lake Te Anau and its surroundings hold significant cultural importance to the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. It is a place deeply embedded in their traditional stories and legends, contributing to the rich tapestry of Maori cultural heritage.

Hidden Marvel: Murchison Mountains

The Murchison Mountains, located near Lake Te Anau, are known for their unique plant and animal life. This rugged and remote range is home to the critically endangered takahe, a flightless bird that was once thought to be extinct and has since been successfully bred and reintroduced into the wild.

Gateway to Milford Sound

From Lake Te Anau, visitors can embark on an awe-inspiring journey to Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most iconic natural attractions. Cruising through majestic fiords, surrounded by towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls, is an unforgettable experience that starts from the shores of Lake Te Anau.

Glow-in-the-Dark Kayaking Experience

For a unique adventure, visitors can indulge in glow-in-the-dark kayaking on the tranquil waters of Lake Te Anau at night. Paddling under a starry sky while witnessing the mesmerizing glow of bioluminescent organisms creates a truly magical experience.

Spectacular Sunsets

As the sun sets over Lake Te Anau, it paints the sky with a stunning palette of colors, creating a breathtaking spectacle. The tranquil setting, framed by majestic mountains, provides the perfect backdrop for capturing unforgettable moments and memories.

Film Location for “The Lord of the Rings”

The captivating landscapes surrounding Lake Te Anau have served as a filming location for the epic “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Fans of the films can explore this picturesque setting and marvel at the same breathtaking vistas that brought Middle-earth to life on the big screen.

Lake Te Anau truly embodies the natural wonders and cultural richness of New Zealand. With its astonishing size, crystal-clear waters, captivating caves, and breathtaking scenery, it continues to captivate visitors from around the world. Whether you seek outdoor adventures, cultural immersion, or moments of tranquility, Lake Te Anau offers an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of its beauty.


Lake Te Anau is truly a remarkable destination that never fails to leave visitors in awe. With its stunning natural beauty, fascinating history, and unique features, it captivates the hearts of all who have the chance to experience it. From its immense size to its deep underwater caves, Lake Te Anau offers a plethora of astonishing facts waiting to be discovered.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an avid hiker, or simply someone looking for a peaceful retreat, Lake Te Anau has it all. Its crystal-clear waters, majestic mountains, and abundant wildlife make it a paradise for outdoor lovers and photographers alike. Exploring the lake’s stunning surroundings and getting lost in its tranquility is an experience unlike any other.

So, if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the beauty of New Zealand and uncover the hidden wonders of Lake Te Anau, don’t miss the chance to visit this extraordinary destination that will undoubtedly leave you with memories to last a lifetime.


1. How big is Lake Te Anau?

Lake Te Anau is the second-largest lake in New Zealand, with a surface area of 344 square kilometers or 133 square miles.

2. What is the depth of Lake Te Anau?

The maximum depth of Lake Te Anau reaches up to 417 meters or 1,368 feet, making it one of the deepest lakes in the Southern Hemisphere.

3. Can you swim in Lake Te Anau?

Yes, swimming is permitted in Lake Te Anau. However, the water can be quite cold, so it’s advisable to take appropriate precautions if you plan to swim.

4. Are there any unique species in Lake Te Anau?

Yes, Lake Te Anau is home to a rare species of black coral, which can be found in its deep underwater caves. These caves are only accessible to experienced divers.

5. Are there any hiking trails around Lake Te Anau?

Absolutely! The Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, surrounds Lake Te Anau. It offers breathtaking views of the lake and its surrounding mountains, making it a popular choice for hikers.

6. Is boating allowed on Lake Te Anau?

Yes, boating is permitted on Lake Te Anau. There are boat ramps available for launching personal watercraft, and guided boat tours are also a popular activity on the lake.

7. Can you fish in Lake Te Anau?

Yes, fishing is allowed in Lake Te Anau, and it is known for its abundance of brown and rainbow trout. However, fishing regulations and licenses may apply, so it’s important to check the rules before casting your line.