The history of Manapouri is full of Geological, Maori, and European stories. Lake Manapouri is 440 metres deep in places and has 34 islands.
Manapouri History Overview
In the last ice age, about 20,000 years ago, Lake Manapouri, along with its northern neighbour Lake Te Anau, were great glacial ice shelves that carved out the valley. Over time the valleys were filled with moraine (glacial debris), allowing the valleys to fill with water as the ice receded and eventually disappeared.
The name of Manapouri means "lake of the sorrowing heart" or "lake of the throbbing heart" referring to a Maori legend that the lake was formed from the tears of two daughters of a local chief. "Manapouri" however, is actually a mistake, the real Maori names for the lake included "Roto-au" (Rainy Lake) and Moturau (Hundred Islands). When an early surveyor confused Manapouri with another New Zealand lake and mislabelled the lake, the name stuck.
This region was chosen as a filming location for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. The Norwest Lakes were used to show the Fellowship travelling south from Rivendell; sections of the Waiau River, which flows between Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, were used for scenes of the River Anduin.
Manapouri Hydro Power Station
In the 1960s plans were proposed to build a massive hydro power station that would artificially raise the level of the lake by 12 metres, this would have created a super lake joining it with Lake Te Anau in the north, it would have destroyed much of Manapouri's sunning scenery.
This promoted one of the largest petitions ever presented to the New Zealand parliament, in response to this unprecedented campaign the plan was modified to leave the lake at its natural level and to construct the power station with minimal environmental impact. The lake levels are now carefully controlled to mimic natural fluctuations.
The upset had the effect of bringing some excellent publicity to the attractions and natural wonders of this region.
Today the Manapouri Power Station is the nation's large hydro power station, and a centre piece of the nation's power grid which draws most of its power from renewable clean hydro power stations.
Manapouri is a popular tourist destination and offers a wide range of accommodation options:
- Manapouri Motels
- Manapouri Hotels
- Manapouri Bed and Breakfasts
- Manapouri Campsites and Holiday Parks
- Manapouri Holiday Homes
View more Manapouri Accommodation options.
Useful Manapouri Links
To help plan your Manapouri holiday choose from the main categories below:
- Manapouri Accommodation
- Manapouri Attractions and Activities
- Manapouri Transport
- Manapouri Visitor Information
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Manapouri Region Information
Key information and facts about the Manapouri region.
Major activities and attractions in the Manapouri region.