Otago has some of New Zealand’s largest and most pristine lakes, which are a recreational haven for boaties, fishermen, tourists, and swimmers. Some also provide hydro-electric power and support Otago’s agricultural industries with water for irrigation.
Summer monitoring: Our recreational monitoring of lakes starts in December and runs through until March.
The Southern Lakes – Lakes Wakatipu, Wanaka, and Hawea – hold stocks of salmon, rainbow trout, and brown trout and give anglers a world-class experience.
Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand's third-largest lake, being 80km long and covering 293 square kilometres. It averages 300 metres deep for over half its length. With Queenstown on its shoreline, Lake Wakatipu is one of New Zealand’s top tourist destinations all year round.
Not far from Lake Wakatipu lies Lake Wanaka, New Zealand's fourth-largest lake, covering 180 sq km. It is 45.5 kms long, 11.6 kms across at its widest, and up to 300m deep. Lake Wanaka’s warm summer makes it a popular spot for New Zealanders holidaying over the annual Christmas-New Year break.
Lake Hawea is separated from Lake Wanaka by a narrow isthmus and is 35 km long. Although narrow, this lake plummets to a depth of 392m. Located on the route to the West Coast, Lake Hawea is surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges.
Several other lakes are located nearby, including Lake Dunstan and Lake Hayes. Lake Dunstan provides irrigation for nearby stone fruit orchards, vineyards, and farms, and is a major recreational area, with facilities for boating, waterskiing, fishing, parapenting, and rowing.
Lake Hayes is a good site from which to observe birdlife, including the introduced mallard, feral goose, the native black teal, Australasian crested grebe and the black shag. Exotic fish in the lake that can be taken recreationally include brown trout and perch, while native fish include upland bully, koaro, and long-finned eel.