Natural Attraction

Lake Manapouri & Frasers Beach

Frasers Beach Road, Manapouri

Nestled amongst the Kepler Mountains, Turret Range and the Hunter Mountains, Lake Manapouri and surrounds offer stunning scenery and numerous activities to enjoy. It is a great spot for families and those who love boating, fishing, kayaking, swimming, day walks, and tramping.

Often described as New Zealand’s most beautiful lake, Lake Manapouri's stunning sandy beaches and deep blue waters can make you feel like you are on a pacific island, not in the deep south of New Zealand. Measuring 444 metres deep, the lake is New Zealand’s second deepest. Formed by a glacier, Lake Manapouri has been cut deep into the ground - the bottom of the lake now lies 267 metres below sea level.

The lake has four arms; North, South, West and Hope, with the smaller indentations of Shallow Bay and Calm Bay. West Arm provides access to Doubtful Sound via Wilmot Pass. The Waiau River is both a natural inlet and outlet for the lake, flowing into the northeast of the lake from Lake Te Anau and flowing out from Manapouri's south-eastern end. The outlet however has been diverted due to the development of Manapōuri Hydroelectric Power Station. Water now flows unnaturally westward down West Arm to the sea at Doubtful Sound.

In 1959 it was proposed to raise the lake by up to 30m for an increase in power generation at the station for the development of an aluminium smelter. This resulted in a strong nationwide protest that lasted over a decade, eventually resulting in the prevention of the raising of the lake. The Save Manapouri Campaign is regarded as a major milestone in the history of New Zealand's environmental protection.

Another feature of the lake is its 33 beautiful, uninhabited, flora and fauna-rich islands. Some of smaller islands are extremely unusual in that they contain natural vegetation which has not been harmed by red deer, as the red deer have not been able to reach them. On two of the larger islands, Pomona and Rona, there have recently been intense efforts by local communities to rid them of invasive pests, protecting indigenous bird life.

Frasers Beach boarders the lake right next to the Manapouri township. It is a great family beach, with easy short walks, plenty of picnic areas, toilets, safe paddling opportunities, and lovely lake views.


Note: Dog access is allowed if the dog is on a leash. Go here for more dog friendly walks and areas in Southland.

Venture Southland
Last modified
Thu 22 Apr 2021
  • Activities
  • Natural Attraction
  • Free Things to Do
  • Outdoor Activities
  • Sightseeing
  • Horse Trekking
  • Water Activities
  • Swimming & Diving
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Boating
  • Family Friendly
  • Scenic Photo Point
  • Scenic Attraction
  • Picnic
  • Walking & Tramping
  • Dogs on leash
  • Sport & Outdoor