Our country is favoured with many exquisitely beautiful alpine lakes, but Manapouri is often referred to as the ‘Loveliest Lake in New Zealand’.

Manapouri is a small settlement on the shores of the lake, 20 minutes drive from Te Anau. The residential area is clustered around Pearl Harbour, set on the Lower Waiau River. This is a popular centre for boat cruises and tramping trips into Fiordland, and is the gateway for excursions into Doubtful Sound, and the tramping track to Dusky Sound.

ManapouriThe lake is in a spectacular setting, framed by the rugged Cathedral Peaks and the Kepler Mountains, dotted with islands, and indented with tentacle-like arms. The lake catchment area is truly vast, absorbing the water from local streams and the Upper Waiau River which drains Lake Te Anau. The Maori translation of its name is ‘Lake of the Sorrowing Heart’, which some believe reflects its many moods – sombre, brooding, tranquil, serene.

Local activities are varied and include hiring yachts, boats or kayaks to explore the sheltered inlets, and walking on local tracks around the lakeshore. Anglers will find an abundant supply of Atlantic salmon, brown and rainbow trout in the lake. Scenic flights offer the chance to take in a vast wilderness area of Fiordland and the Southern Lakes.

ManapouriA day trip to Doubtful Sound is undoubtedly the highlight of a visit to Manapouri. This glorious sound is second only to Milford Sound as a visitor attraction. The day trip runs from Pearl Harbour to the West Arm visitor centre, where a coach takes you over the Wilmot Pass to join a scenic cruise on Doubtful Sound. The grandeur of this sound is quite overwhelming, and the wildlife is particularly fascinating, with pods of dolphins, crested penguins and fur seals making their appearance as you near the open sea. There is an optional tour to the Manapouri Underground Power Station. The rough-hewn access road spirals 2 km down into the mountain to the vast generator room.

Manapouri is a special place of peace and serenity, where the bounty of the natural world is preserved for all to enjoy.