Being the third largest lake in New Zealand, Lake Wakatipu is somewhat interesting.
Because of the mountains which rise hastily from the shore of this glacier lake, Lake Wakatipu has an unusual rhythmic rise and fall in water level, roughly about 12 cm every five minutes.
The best place to witness this extraordinary experience is in Bobs Cave.
Lake Wakatipu Activities
Popular activities on Lake Wakatipu include TSS Earnslaw cruises and wakeboarding and waterskiing.
Lake Wakatipu History
Legend of the lake
These deep waters of Lake Wakatipu harbour a legend of love, committment, passiong and murder. Manata was the beautiful daughter of a local Maori chief, who would not let marry her beloved Matakauri.
One day, Manata was kidnapped by the terrible giant, Matau. Her distraught father promised she would marry whoever could rescue her. Here was Matakauri's chance. Knowing the warm nor-wester would put the giant to sleep, he followed the wind to Matau's lair in the mountains beyond. But he could not cut the cords that trapped her. Magically, the love in Manata's sobs dissolved them and together the pair escaped.
After they married, brave Matakauri decided to make the Wakatipu safe from Matau by setting fire to the giant's bed of bracken during the next nor-wester. Fat from Matau's huge body made a fire so intense it burned a hole more than 400 metres deep. Melted snow filled it to create Lake Wakatipu.
Legend has it only his heart survived and that its continuring pulse causes the lake to regularly rise and fall. Now you know why Lake Wakatipu is shapped like a giant curled up in sleep. There you see the grave of Matau.
Lake Wakatipu was first sailed in August 1859, by Socttish surveyor Donald Hay in a venture that would make many modern sailors quail. Finding a Maori reed raft where Kingston now stands, he fashioned a mast and nailed up his grey wool blanket as a sail. Pummelled by snow and winter's harsh wind, having to frequently empty his leaking craft, Hay then explored Lake Wakatipu's shores for two weeks in search of potential farm land.
Returning to Kingston, Hay walked the 225kms to Dunedin - only to find a speculator had already beaten him to the land's lease.
"Lake Wakatipu - A view from the head of the lake of Glenorchy, disembarkment-point for the Paradise Valley Tour," New Zealand Today
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