Lakes (New Zealand)

Where can I find information about lakes in New Zealand?

Image: [Quiet beauty] by Tanja Zöllner on Unsplash.

Entry last updated: 22/12/20


New Zealand is a land of lakes. Lakes are home to birds, native fish, and small creatures such as worms, mites, dragonflies, snails, and mussels. Pollution of New Zealand's natural resources (such as Lakes) is an issue of high importance to us as a nation.

Famous lakes

There are thousands of lakes in New Zealand. Here are some of the more well-known lakes.

Lake Benmore: The largest artificial lake in New Zealand.

Lake Hauroko: New Zealand's deepest lake at 462m.

Lake Manapouri: This lake has the largest inland island.

Lake Taupo: The largest lake in New Zealand.

Lake Te Anau: The largest lake in the South Island.

Lake Wakatipu: New Zealand's longest lake at 80km.

Te Whanga Lagoon: The largest lake outside of the North and South Islands

Types of lakes

These websites have information about different types of lakes and how they are formed.

Encyclopedia of Earth

This site comes from the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario and includes material suitable for secondary students.

  • Enter the search words 'origin age lakes' into the search bar.
  • Select the article Origin and age of lakes to find out how lakes are formed and how they might die.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA)

LAWA is a partnership between New Zealand's regional councils, the Cawthron Institute, Ministry for the Environment, Massey University, and the Tindall foundation. It shares information and date about the environment.

  • Search for 'lakes.'
  • Select the factsheet Lakes in New Zealand to find out about different types of lakes in New Zealand and their nutrient levels (trophic states).
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg [lakes]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

New Zealand lakes

Check out these websites to find out about New Zealand lakes.

Te Ara: New Zealand Encyclopedia

This website gives excellent information and key facts and figures, about animals and plants, about life and environments in and around the lakes of New Zealand.

  • From the homepage choose the section The Bush.
  • Then select Landscapes.
  • Choose Lakes.
  • Read through the different section for lots of information about New Zealand's many lakes. It includes information about lake processes and the human impact on lakes.
  • Or use the search bar to find out about a specific lake eg Lake Wanaka.
Tips: This website is supported by the New Zealand government so you can be sure that the information is accurate and properly researched. We like websites with govt. or edu. as that means that they are reliable - they are from governments or education institutions overseas as well as in New Zealand.

Department of Conservation (DOC)

The Department of Conservation, also known as DOC, is a government agency in charge of conserving New Zealand's natural and historic heritage. It has lots of information about the different lakes in New Zealand including their geology, wildlife, and history.

  • Select Parks and recreation.
  • Choose a region from the map.
  • Under the dropdown menu for Place, select a lake and then Search.
  • This will take you to an information page about that area eg Lake Ellesmere (Te Waihora) area.
  • Some pages have more information than others.

Britannica Secondary

This is one of the EPIC resources. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.


Lakes are a type of freshwater. Cleaning up New Zealand's polluted waterways is an important part of conservation efforts. See these websites to find out more.

Ministry for the Environment (MFE)

The Ministry for the Environment is responsible for providing national guidance and policy about the environment in New Zealand. They released a report in April 2020 about the state of New Zealand's freshwater.

  • Select the tab Publications.
  • Find the report from April 2020 Our freshwater 2020 summary.
  • Download the PDF to find out about Lake health and pollution.

Department of Conservation (DOC)

This website also has information about how DOC is contributing to conservation of New Zealand lakes.

To find out about freshwater:

  • go to Nature at the top of the page and then select Habitats
  • now select Freshwater, and
  • explore the links to other pages to find out more.

To find out about other conservation efforts:

New Zealand Geographic

This is one of the EPIC resources. It gives online access to the entire archive of New Zealand Geographic magazine. It explains the Clean Water package.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

The Royal Society

This New Zealand Aotearoa website supports the learning of science and technology by providing information on current issues for students and teachers.

Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!


There are a number of books that have been written about lakes - check out your local public or school library to see what they have there.

SCIS no. 1968952
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