Lake Arapuni, North Island, New Zealand

Lake Locations:

New Zealand - North Island - Waikato -

In Maori one of the meanings of “ara puni” is “blocked path” making Arapuni Lake an appropriate name for the man made reservoir on the North Island of New Zealand. The long narrow lake stretches 22 miles along the Waikato River providing both electricity and fantastic recreation opportunities.

Arapuni Lake was created by the Arapuni Dam, one of six major dams on the Waikato River. The concrete dam was built to supply hydroelectricity, and it was the first hydroelectric station built by the government on the Waikato River. Construction on the dam started in 1924, and the reservoir was completed in 1929. The dam has been through several expansions and repairs over the years including an efficiency upgrade in 2007. With eight generation units, Arapuni has the largest single capacity of any hydroelectric system station on the Waikato River. It is owned and operated by state owned Mighty River Power. The Arapuni power station is called the “Old Workhorse of the Waikato,” and both the power house and dam are protected by the Historic Places Trust.

There is a road across the dam, and the Waikato River Trail starts at the suspension bridge just below the dam. Spanning the gorge, the Arapuni Swing Bridge has pedestrian access and breathtaking views. At the time of its construction, the engineering of the bridge was overshadowed by the dam, but today it is recognized and protected by the Historic Places Trust.

The Waikato River makes up both the inflow and outflow of Arapuni Lake with the Arapuni Dam at the northern end of the lake and the Waipapa Dam at the southern end. Access to the lake is from one of several boat launches, and there is more than enough water for boating, water skiing, rowing, and swimming. Because the shore access is limited, most anglers fish from a boat, and Arapuni Lake is a very popular trout lake. The lake is stocked, and healthy populations of rainbow and brown trout average five and a half pounds and 20 inches.

Arapuni is also the name of a small settlement at the dam. The rural village is an artist community made up of woodworkers, painters, potters, fabric artists, and metalworkers. The Arapuni Residents Association calls Arapuni the “Hidden Path,” and the small community is a hidden treat. For visitors who want to join the quiet community, there is real estate for sale. Accommodations range from some vacation rentals to private and government run campgrounds around Lake Arapuni. Nearby towns have cafes, restaurants, and antique shopping, and Arapuni Lake is just 40 miles from Hamilton. One of New Zealand’s larger cities, Hamilton has restaurants, museums and any amenities a visitor might need.

The area around Arapuni Lake has a long volcanic history. Cliffs of ignimbrite, a volcanic rock, point up like fingers on one shore of the lake. In the background, Maungatauri, an extinct volcano, rises to 2,614 feet at its peak. Maungatauri is part of the 8,406 acre Maungatauri Ecological Island, an attempt to remove invasive pests and restore the mountain’s native diversity. Visitors can explore the preserve from one of the walking trails.

The interesting geological features and the creative locals combine with the beautiful water and abundant fish to make Lake Arapuni an exceptional New Zealand vacation destination.

Things to do at Lake Arapuni

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Museum
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Arapuni

  • Brown Trout
  • Trout

Lake Arapuni Photo Gallery

    Lake Arapuni Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Mighty River Power

    Surface Area: 2,323 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 364 feet

    Completion Year: 1929

    Water Residence Time: 1 week

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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