Lake Wakatipu

With Queenstown sitting on the shore of Lake Wakatipu it goes without saying that I took *a lot* of photos of it.

Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand’s longest lakes with a length of over 80k (50 miles) and 380m deep in places! That’s a lot of crystal aqua coloured water! The Lake sites towards the southern end of the Southern Alps. The river Dart flows into it at the north and the lake is drained by the Kawarau river.

The lake is known for it’s stunning scenery and is home to what is considered to be one of the worlds most beautiful drives in the world, according to National Geographic, the route to Glenorchy at the northern tip of the lake.

The shape of the lake is particularly different and I think it looks a bit like a lightning bolt, but Maori legends would say otherwise. The lake is a deep s shaped lake and was formed by glaciers cutting through the southern alps a long long time ago. But, this legend tells a very different story.

The tale begins with Manata, the beautiful daughter of a local Maori chief who had forbade her from marrying Matakauri, the man she loved. One night Manata was kidnapped by a fierce giant demon from the mountains names Matau. The chief was distressed and so he promised his daughters hand in marriage to whichever man from the tribe could rescue her.

Matakauri headed off the the lair of Matau as the night fell and under cover of darkness rescued Manata and they were happily married. But that’s not the end of the tale for Matakauri wanted to make sure that his wife and his tribe were safe from the threat of Matau and so once again he marched forth into the mountains where he found Matau asleep. Matakauri set him on fire burning him where he lay asleep on his side. The fire burned a deep scar into the earth and caused ice and snow on the mountains around to melt – forming Lake Wakatipu (which translated means the hollow of the giant).

The waters of the lake rise and fall up to 5″ every few minutes and this is said to be the giants still beating heart.

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