Lake Karapiro, North Island, New Zealand

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

If you’re considering Lake Karapiro vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Lake Karapiro guide!

Lake Karapiro visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: New Zealand - North Island - Waikato -

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.

Custom Lake Karapiro house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

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

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Karapiro

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Lake Karapiro photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

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

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