Lake Brunner, South Island, New Zealand

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lake Brunner.

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Lake Brunner visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: New Zealand - South Island - West Coast -

Moana Kotuku is what the Maori call Lake Brunner, naming it after the beautiful and rare white herons (kotuku) sometimes seen on the lake’s shores. The lake’s English name was given in memory of a 19th century British explorer, Thomas Brunner, who was awarded by the British Royal Geographical Society for his exploits of New Zealand’s South Island. Set in the West Coast region of the island, the lake is surrounded by a white granite shoreline, New Zealand forests, and the peaks of the Southern Alps that isolate the West Coast from the rest of the island.

Lake Brunner, a natural lake formed by a glacier, is a prime fishery for wild brown trout. Lake Brunner’s wilderness surroundings and distance from major towns make it a less frequented lake with low fishing pressure. But the fish are large and abundant. Approximately 250 brown trout can be found per kilometer in water that is so often clear that sight fishing is very popular with anglers who often see and stalk their targets well before catching them. Eel fishing, a traditional practice among the Maori, is also viable in the lake. The rivers and streams flowing into the lake harbor abundant trout as well and the lake’s outflow, the Arnold River, which is great for trout and salmon fishing. Whitewater rafting is another popular sport on the river if you’re looking for an adventure. The Arnold River is also a source of hydropower; the Arnold Power Station, operated by TrustPower, was commissioned in 1932.

Though Lake Brunner is relatively uncrowded throughout the year, it is a well serviced lake. Fishing gear, groceries, and a motor service center are easily accessible. Not limited to fishing, all kinds of water sports and boating can be enjoyed on the lake including a water taxi service and lake tours. Areas for picnicking on the edge of the lake provide another way to enjoy the serenity of Lake Brunner, and unique opportunities like heli-fishing or a scenic flight on a float plane will thrill any visitor. Various walks encircle the lake and meander through the area’s native timbers and flora. One challenging walk climbs to the tussock-covered top of nearby Mt. Te Kinga.

The Lake Brunner area’s pristine wild affords all types of excursions. The nearby Paparoa National Park features canyons, cliffs and limestone caves. A visit to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks is a must. These intriguing geological formations look like flattened rocks that have been piled into stacks, hence their name.

The tiny village of Moana (moana means “the deep ocean”) sits on the north end of Lake Brunner, and is one of the stops along the TranzAlpine train route. The train route is world renown for its stunning New Zealand scenes. It carries passengers from Christchurch on the East Coast past farmlands, rainforest, gorges, up and over the Southern Alps to Greymouth, a large town about 20 miles from Moana and Lake Brunner.

A lengthy stay in one of the available vacation rentals will complete your trip to this New Zealand Lake. After a day’s catch of sizeable trout on Lake Brunner, or an afternoon of exploring the rugged and fascinating creations of mother nature, come home to a cozy cottage, bungalow, or unique New Zealand bach where you can rest your weary limbs and gear up for another day of fresh experiences.

Custom Lake Brunner house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Brunner

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Picnicking
  • National Park

Fish species found at Lake Brunner

  • Brown Trout
  • Eel
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Brunner

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Lake Brunner photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Lake Brunner statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: TrustPower Limited

Surface Area: 10,151 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 289 feet

Average Depth: 180 feet

Maximum Depth: 359 feet

Water Volume: 1,833,023 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1932

Water Residence Time: 1.18 years

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