Lake Karapiro, North Island, New Zealand

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Karapiro — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Lake Karapiro cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Lake Karapiro

A 1,920-acre reservoir, Lake Karapiro is home to the New Zealand National Rowing teams. Located on the North Island of New Zealand in the Waikato Region, the lake is best known as a world-class rowing venue as well as host to other water sports events such as yachting, powerboating, and water skiing. A dam for the Karapiro Power Station at the Waikato River forms the lake, which was created to store water for the area. Owned by the Mighty River Power, the power station is the last of eight hydroelectric power stations on the Waikato River. Just 19 miles southeast of the city of Hamilton, the Lake Karapiro dam was completed in 1947, four years behind schedule due to the outbreak of World War II and a shortage of labor and materials. Once completed, the lake flooded the original power station on the Waikato River built in 1913 by the Waihi Gold Mining Company.

Lake Karapiro, known for its flat water, hosted the 1978 World Rowing Championships, the 1950 British Empire Games, the Waka Ama (outrigger canoeing) Nationals, and the NZGOP Hydroplaning Racing. Activities on the lake include kayaking, raft building, yachting, waka ama, cycling, bird watching, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, golf, and swimming. Vacation rentals are available around Lake Karapiro, as well as campgrounds and lodging. Whether you stay directly on the lake or in a small town close by, Lake Karapiro is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy many outdoor pursuits.

When fishing Lake Kapairo, expect to catch large brown trout and rainbow trout, which are stocked each year by the Fish and Game. Due to the many water activities, you may be competing for lake real estate when fishing but it’s well worth it. Access to the lake is plentiful with numerous boat ramps along highway 1 on the northern shore and on a side road on the eastern shore. This L-shaped lake offers the best fishing at the head of the lake where the water leaves the dam. The currents here are very fast so the fish tend to be near the bottom. The two major tributaries of Lake Karapiro, Pokaiwhenua Stream and Little Waipa Stream, are excellent places to drop your line.

Lake Karapiro is situated in the Waipa District, which is home to around 40,000 residents mainly in the urban centers of Te Awamutu, Cambridge, Pirongia, and Kihikihi. The district is dominated by an agricultural base with dairy farming, deer farming, fruit production, sheep and beef ranching, and thoroughbred horse breeding. It hosts the largest agricultural exhibition in New Zealand, the National Agricultural Fieldays.

For a North Island water wonderland, head to Lake Karapiro where the water is smooth as glass, blue as the sea, and as welcoming as it gets. Enjoy a casual weekend or relax for several weeks as you water ski, wake board, and kayak on Lake Karapiro.

Things to Do at Lake Karapiro

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish Species Found at Lake Karapiro

  • Brown Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Find Places to Stay at Lake Karapiro

If you’re considering a Lake Karapiro lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Lake Karapiro Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lake Karapiro lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Lake Karapiro Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Mighty River Power

Surface Area: 1,920 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 170 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 166 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 176 feet

Average Depth: 36 feet

Maximum Depth: 100 feet

Completion Year: 1947

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Shop Lake Karapiro Gifts

Custom Lake Tumblers

Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

Custom Lake T Shirt

Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


Advertise Your Lake Karapiro Business or Vacation Rental

LakeLubbers will soon offer businesses the opportunity to advertise and homeowners and property managers the ability to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily. If you would like additional details, please contact our advertising team.


Looking for the Lake Karapiro Forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here. We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

Lake Karapiro Photo Gallery

New photos coming soon!

Spread the word! Share our Lake Karapiro article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!