Lake Monowai Road, Monowai

One of the smaller southern glacial lakes, Lake Monowai is shaped like a boomerang and set amongst beautiful mountainous country and native bush. It is drained in the northeast by the short Monowai River, which then enters the Waiau River.

The lake abounds in fish while the surrounding forested mountains carry large numbers of deer and other game - perfect for fishing and hunting. Water activities such as boating and kayaking are very popular on the lake and it is a great spot for family camping. There are a few short walks suitable for children in the area, including the Borland Nature Walk, while for the more experienced and able there are many beautiful tramps near the lake.

One of New Zealand's oldest hydroelectric power stations is powered by the waters of Lake Monowai. It was opened in 1925 and is located at the junction of the Waiau and Monowai Rivers. In 1926 the level of the lake was raised by 2.13m to ensure greater output of electric energy generation, an action which has had long-lasting consequences. The extent of the damage is still visible today, over 90 years later, with shorelines still lined with the eerie stumps of dead trees.

The surveyor James McKerrow listed the name of the lake as "Monowai", but this is probably a corruption of an earlier form which could mean a "channel full of water".

Venture Southland
Last modified
Thu 13 Jan 2022
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