Considered to be New Zealand’s loveliest lake, Lake Manapouri was formed by glacial action in the most recent ice age - around 20,000 years ago.
Beautiful Lake Manapouri is within the boundaries of Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. The lake is framed by the spectacular Cathedral Mountains and has four arms - North, South, West and Hope.
During the last ice age, glaciers originating in central Fiordland spread out to the east across the present sites of Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, dumping great quantities of rock and gravel in long ridges. When the ice melted, lakes formed behind the ridges. Lake Manapouri is 440 metres deep in places and has 33 islands.
Several tracks start on the eastern shores of Lake Manapouri. These are ideal for day trips and easy 2 - 3 day hikes. From Pearl Harbour, which is adjacent to Manapouri township, you can organise a lake cruise or a tour of the West Arm underground power station.
In 1960, it was proposed to raise Lake Manapouri by up to 30 metres for the power station, but a strong nationwide protest prevented this from happening. The lake levels are instead carefully controlled to mimic natural fluctuations.
This region was chosen as a filming location for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies. The Norwest Lakes were used to show the Fellowship travelling south from Rivendell; sections of the Waiau River, which flows between Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, were used for scenes of the River Anduin. Landscape shots of the lake itself were used for epic scenic frames when The Company flees on the backs of eagles.