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Lake Taupo

Taupō-nui-a-tia, New Zealand’s largest, and one its cleanest lakes, is a national treasure, renowned for its deep blue waters.

Ngati Tūwharetoa are the kaitiaki of the lake and hold legal title to the lake bed and tributaries. More than 30 rivers and streams flow into the lake, with only one outlet, the Waikato River.

The lake is clean and clear, with low levels of nutrients and algae. It has good water quality for swimming and the plants and animals that live in it.

Waikato Regional Council (then known as Environment Waikato) began work to protect Lake Taupō in 2001, after monitoring revealed the lake’s water quality was under threat from land use intensification and nitrogen leaching from surrounding land. Nitrogen entering the lake can stimulate growth of algae. Evidence showed farming contributed 92 per cent of the manageable load of nitrogen entering the lake.

The council’s initiative laid the groundwork for what was, at that time, New Zealand’s biggest ever environmental project, involving:  

  • a change to the Waikato Regional Plan (known as Variation 5) that introduced new rules and policies to cap the amount of nitrogen leaching into the lake from urban and rural activities
  • a trust administering more than $80 million of public funds from Government, Waikato Regional Council, and Taupō District Council to reduce nitrogen leaching.

The project aimed to reduce nitrogen discharges into the lake by at least 20 per cent. Approaches taken include encouraging and assisting land use change, purchasing land or nitrogen in the Taupō catchment, and funding research and other initiatives to assist landowners to reduce the nitrogen impact of their activities on the lake.

As at May 2015, the amount of nitrogen entering the lake had been reduced by more than 150 tonnes a year and the project was set to successfully end later in 2015. There will be ongoing monitoring of land use to ensure the reductions are maintained.

Lake Summary
  • Lake size
  • Maximum depth
  • Catchment size
  • Mixing pattern
  • Geomorphic type
Scientific data for this lake

This dashboard shows information on the data collected by the regional councils and unitary authorities for two lake water quality and ecological condition measurements. Lake SPI (Lake Submerged Plant Indicators) and TLI (Trophic Level Index).  Select an indicator to see the historical monitoring data.

  • Water Quality

    Trophic Level Index (TLI)

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    This measure is the Trophic Level Index (TLI). The TLI indicates the life supporting capacity of a lake and is based on four water quality indicators.

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    Trophic Level Index (TLI) history for this lake

    Trophic Level Indicator (TLI) which measures four parameters: water clarity, chlorophyll content, total phosphorus and total nitrogen. From these parameters a TLI value is calculated. In cases where water clarity data is missing a three parameter TLI is calculated. The higher the value, the greater the nutrients and fertility of the water which encourages growth, including algal blooms. As a rule, higher TLI scores mean poorer water quality. View a factsheet on TLI

    TLI history for Lake Taupo

    What do the icons mean?

    Very good water quality. Trophic Level Index of 0-2. Microtrophic lake conditions.
    Good water quality. Trophic Level Index of 2-3. Oligotrophic lake conditions.
    Average water quality. Trophic Level Index of 3-4. Mesotrophic lake conditions.
    Poor water quality. Trophic Level Index of 4-5. Eutrophic lake conditions.
    Very poor water quality. Trophic Level Index of greater than 5. Supertrophic lake conditions.
    No data available.
    TLI history for Lake Taupo data table
    Year TLI Score
    Year TLI Score
  • Ecological Conditions

    Lake Submerged Plant Indicators (LakeSPI)

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    The LakeSPI status describes the ecological condition of the lake and is based on plants present.

    LakeSPI data provided by NIWA

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    LakeSPI history for this lake

    LakeSPI (Lake Submerged Plant Indicators) is a method of characterising the ecological condition of lakes based on the composition of native and invasive plants growing in them. A higher LakeSPI percentage result is associated with better ecological health:

    LakeSPI N/A
    LakeSPI {{spiData.details.Value}}%

    The overall LakeSPI score is calculated using a Native Condition Index ('good' plants) and an Invasive Impact Index (introduced, non-native plants):

    Native Condition N/A
    Native Condition {{spiData.details.NativeIndex}}%
    Invasive Impact N/A
    Invasive Impact {{spiData.details.InvasiveIndex}}% NA

    A higher Native Condition value indicates better ecological condition, but a higher Invasive Impact value indicates invasive plants are negatively impacting native plant communities.
    View a factsheet on LakeSPI for more information on these indicators.

    • LakeSPI
    • Native Condition
    • Invasive Impact
    LakeSPI history for Lake Taupo

    What is this graph showing me?

    This graph is displaying the overall LakeSPI score over time. The results denote the ecological condition of the lake.

    Excellent ecological health. A LakeSPI score of 75-100%.
    High ecological health. A LakeSPI score of 50-75%.
    Moderate ecological health. A LakeSPI score of 20-50%.
    Poor ecological health. A LakeSPI score of 0-20%.
    Non-vegetated. A LakeSPI score of 0% (there are no plants present).
    No data available.
    LakeSPI history for Lake Taupo data table
    Sample Date LakeSPI Status LakeSPI % Native Condition Index % Invasive Impact Index %
    LakeSPI information has been provided by NIWA.

Monitored sites on Lake Taupo

...retrieving sites.

No sites found.

Live Data

Raw telemetered water temperature data from Acacia Bay Wharf.


The Environmental Data produced by this page should be used as a guide only. LAWA takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information presented, and accepts no liability for actions taken of others based on this information.
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