Western Southland

Winding its way along the edge of the Fiordland National Park, the wide, rushing waters of the Waiau River are bordered by pristine forest and dramatic mountainscapes.

The Waiau is the largest river in Southland. It is the outflow of Lake Te Anau, flowing south from it into Lake Manapouri, and then continuing south for 70km before emptying into Foveaux Strait near Tuatapere. It also takes water from Lake Monowai.

The lower Waiau was once New Zealand's second largest river, after the Clutha, but now most of its water is discharged through Manapouri's West Arm Power Station. Instead of its historic average flow of about 450 cumecs, the flow from Lake Manapouri hovers around 17 cumecs. It is still a big body of fast flowing water and by the time its many tributaries make a contribution a large amount of water is deposited out into the Strait.

The Upper Waiau that flows between the lakes doubled as the fictional River Anduin at the end of the first film of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, for the scenes where the Uruk-hai chase the Fellowship along the river banks.

Both sections of the Waiau offer excellent fishing and jet boating opportunities.

Venture Southland
Last modified
Fri 10 Jul 2020
  • Activities
  • Natural Attraction
  • Sightseeing
  • Water Activities
  • Movie Location
  • Fishing & Hunting
  • Scenic Attraction
  • Sport & Outdoor