Lake Maraetai, North Island, New Zealand

Lake Locations:

New Zealand - North Island - Taupo -

Also known as:  Maraetai Reservoir

Lake Maraetai in the Taupo Region of New Zealand’s North Island is a little-known vacationer’s dream. The 1013 acre reservoir just 33 miles north of Lake Taupo is a new lake; completion of the dam and power stations that form Lake Maraetai occurred in 1971. Created by the third dam on the Waikato River power generating system, the reservoir is only seven miles downstream from Whakamaru power station. The short stretch of the Waikato river is very remote and is accessible only by boat. The two power stations at Lake Maraetai produce the largest electricity output on the Waikato power system. The deep narrow reservoir that was formed when the dam was built across a narrow gorge provides a valuable side benefit in recreational opportunities for visitors to the area.

When the Waikato system was built, the location 53 miles southwest of Hamilton was difficult for workmen to get to. The temporary village of Mangakino was built to house workers and after completion, much of the village was returned to farmland. However, many of the workers had fallen in love with the scenic area and saw in the village the ideal location to own a vacation ‘bach’ or cottage on Lake Maraetai. Mangakino was kept alive and has transformed into a small vacation village that acts as tourist center for the reservoir. The village serves as headquarters for mail delivery, fuel, supplies and information in the area. A surprising number of vacation rentals, many the traditional Kiwi baches of the 50s and 60s can be rented by the week or month for very reasonable prices. Mangakino has developed a reputation as the traditional fishing or family lake vacation destination of choice.

Both brown and rainbow trout are sought by fishermen at Lake Maraetai. The narrow arms of the reservoir offer secluded fishing spots accessible only by boat. These same arms provide quiet waters for canoes and kayaks paddled by bird-watchers and nature lovers. The main body of the lake is favored for water skiing, jet skiing, sailing, windsurfing and power boating. an annual power boat regatta is held here every January. A jetty in Mangakino provides boat launch facilities for visitors. Whakamaru, Maraetai and Ohakuri hydro lakes and dams are nearby, all of which are popular for swimming, boating, fishing and hiking.

The area around Lake Maraetai has other attractions of interest to visitors; there is a golf course nearby and the town sports a small private museum dedicated to the building of the Waikato power system. River canyon tours via classic jet boat are available to tour the remote canyon of the river upstream to the Whakamaru dam. Southwest of the lake, Pureora Forest Park is well-known as one of the finest rain forests in the world. The thousand-year-old podocarp trees of giant totara, rimu, matai, miro and kahikatea, tower high into the canopy, providing cover for the rare kokako, kaka, kakarihi and North Island robin. The park has extensive trail systems for the explorer’s pleasure. The Waikato River trails meander along the river system and are favorite spots for hiking and mountain biking.

Craters of the Moon geothermal area is located about 30 miles south of Lake Maraetai, near Taupo. This new geothermal area was created in the 1950s after the use of geothermal power lowered water pressure in the area so that it no longer held back the underground steam. Board walks have been built to give the viewers safe passage through the changing boiling mud pools and steam vents. Another favored sight in the area is the majestic Huka Falls, a short distance downriver from Lake Taupo. Nature loves will enjoy the Waipahihi Botanical Reserve at Taupo.

Vacation rentals at Lake Maraetai thus provide a wide variety of activities for every member of the family. Lodgings secured here can act as home-base to a selection of lakes and a range of activities. If the visitor watches real estate listings, he may be lucky enough to find the perfect traditional bach, farmhouse or cottage for sale. One thing is certain: once you visit Lake Maraetai, you’ll want to come back often!

Things to do at Lake Maraetai

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Maraetai

  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Lake Maraetai Photo Gallery

    Lake Maraetai Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Mighty River Power

    Surface Area: 1,013 acres

    Shoreline Length: 13 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 618 feet

    Maximum Depth: 246 feet

    Completion Year: 1971

    Lake Area-Population: 1,200

    Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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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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