What follows is a guest post from a fellow Yank and friend who until very recently called New Zealand home. Jeremy has spent months exploring New Zealand and was based temporarily in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown. He’s crossed the ditch now to Australia, and I look forward to one day again sharing a Black Shag with him at Dux de Lux on the shores of Lake Wakatipu (not as it sounds, you must visit Queenstown to understand…).
New Zealand is a land of picturesque lakes, often painted and photographed for their arresting elegance and tranquil resplendence. The raw beauty of New Zealand has remained intact over the years, its natural glory still relatively unaffected.
Aotearoa (the native Maori word for “New Zealand”) is far removed from the rest of the world and its incredible geographic history has put it on the map (and the internet!) for its astounding landscapes and scenery. Here are 7 of the Most Stunning Lakes in New Zealand.
Lake Taupo is located smack dab in the middle of the North Island. Not only is it New Zealand’s largest lake, but it is the largest freshwater lake in Oceana. Lake Taupo sits in a caldera of a volcano, Oruanui, which erupted 26,500 years ago. This type of volcanic formation is very typical of New Zealand’s North Island, where many volcanoes remain active.
Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s longest lake, gained its notoriety because it abuts the famous Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. Thousands of visitors come to Queenstown each year to pump adrenaline and marvel at its scenic beauty. The Remarkables, a mountain range and ski field famous for its part in The Lord of the Rings, rises impressively behind Lake Wakatipu, creating a stunning backdrop for this natural beauty. This shot looks from Bennets Bluff towards the quaint town of Glenorchy at the head of the lake.
Located on New Zealand’s South Island, Lake Tekapo is a popular tourist destination and, with the exception of Lake Wakatipu, it might be New Zealand’s most famous lake. Tekapo’s blazing turquoise color comes from glacial sediment that was left behind when the lake’s basin was originally formed. Lake Tekapo is fringed by the Southern Alps and, on a clear day, from the right angle, Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain, can be seen in the distance.
The Emerald Lakes
Embedded in its volcanic terrain, the Emerald Lakes are a part of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand’s most popular tramp in Tongariro National Park. This is a highly volcanic region and the landscape reflects this. The lakes, which shine an impossible emerald, have been colored by dissolved volcanic minerals. Among other things, this area also boasts lava flows, boiling hot springs and steam geysers.
Wai-O-Tapu is a geothermal area in the North Island’s Bay of Plenty region. Only 30km from Rotorua, this volcanic landscape is host to boiling mud pools, geysers and multi-hued rocks and pools. The world famous Champagne Pool got its name from the effluence of carbon dioxide, hence, Champagne! Wai-O-Tapu is New Zealand’s most geothermic site.
Left behind by a glacier from the last ice age, this charming lake sits next to the quaint town of Wanaka. Just as this small city is Queenstown’s little sister, so are the two lakes. This body of water breathes serenity, and many locals and tourists alike spend their days lounging on the gravel beach, enjoying the tranquility this lake brings.
Another glacial feature of New Zealand, Lake Pukaki boasts a distinctive blue color, created by the byproduct of glacial erosion. These sediments are fed into the lake by the Tasman and Hooker Glaciers. With Mount Cook standing proudly in the background, Pukaki is one lake not to miss, its rocky shoreline creating a contrast of colors one won’t find anywhere else in the world.
As you can see, New Zealand is a vast and contrasting land of glacial and volcanic craters, formations, mountains, valleys and lakes. Its small population and a low level of tourism makes certain that, for years to come, this iconic country will remain preserved. And what a blessing that is!
Good work, New Zealand. I’m officially impressed.
Born in America, Jeremy, an IT specialist by trade, packed up his belongings and left home on an open-ended trip to Australia. Years later, he’s still on the move and exploring other countries. He is now a mobile cocktail bartender and the head writer for travelFREAK! Check out travelFREAK.net, follow Jeremy on Twitter, and love him on Facebook.