Opunake Lake, North Island, New Zealand

Lake Locations:

New Zealand - North Island -

Opunake Lake is situated off the coast of New Zealand near the town of Taranaki. Once a natural basin next to the Wajaur River, Opunake Lake was formed to generate electricity and now provides recreational activities for those who enjoy fishing, boating, coastal walks, swimming and more.

In the mid-1800s the land that is now Opunake Lake was used as a vegetable garden by the Armed Constabulary. In 1899, talk began among Town Board members and engineers about the possibility to use the land to store water from the Wajaua River which would enable hydroelectricity production. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that Opunake Lake was actually created. The Opunake Power Station was then built at the southern end of Opunake Beach. The Power Station is fed water from Opunake Lake in order to generate power.

Visitors of Opunake Lake can enjoy one of 11 walkways in the Taranaki/Wanganui area, known as the Opunake Walkway. Starting at the Opunake Lake boat ramp walkers can behold the beauty of the lake as they walk counter clockwise around its peaceful waters. Once past the lake Opunake Walkway leads travelers to the sandy shore of Opunake Beach which is known to be the one of the safest swimming beaches on the coastline. The walkway ends north of the town of Opunake where walkers can find shopping, cafes and a movie theatre. The Opunake Walkway takes about 2 ½ hours to complete and provides walkers excellent views of New Zealand’s landscape.

After a pleasant walk around Opunake Lake, anglers may want to get out their fishing gear and try to reel in one of the many brown trout or rainbow trout that can be found in Opunake Lake or the adjacent Wajaua River. Visitors who do not like fishing may find boating, swimming or water skiing more to their liking. Along the shores of Opunake Lake there is something for everyone.

The area neighboring Opunake Lake offers so much for nature enthusiasts and sightseers and features farmlands, cliffs and coastal shorelines. The peeks of Mt. Taranaki towers over 8,261 feet above sea level and can be seen from the waters of Opunake Lake on clear days. Mt. Taranaki attracts visitors year round and is very popular among hikers and skiers. Mt. Taranaki is bordered by Egmont National Park, an outdoor wonderland with over 82,780 acres. The national park has over 50 rivers and streams and the beautiful Dawson Falls. Visitors can hike one of the many trails, view wildlife or fish in one of the many streams. Overnight accommodations can also be found at Egmont National Park.

Other places of enjoyment and adventure located near Opunake Lake are surf spots, Opunake Beach and Opunake Community Baths. The Opunake Beach offers lifeguards during the summer months and has a great camping and RV park. Families will enjoy the beach and children will delight in activities geared just for them, such as playing on the playground or in the kiddy pool. Recreational sports at Opunake Beach include deep sea fishing, windsurfing, boating and surfing. Surf spots can be found just about anywhere off Surf Highway 45. An artificial reef is in construction at Opunake Beach to provide even more surfing opportunities. A swimming pool complex open to residents of Opunake and Taranaki areas can be found at the Opunake Community Baths.

Opunake Lake and the surrounding locality is an excellent place to buy a summer home or permanent residence. The quiet and relaxing Opunake Lake draws a large number of retired people who can be found talking with neighboring friends or sitting on their decks enjoying lake or ocean views. Vacation rentals are also abundant in the Opunake Lake area. Tourist can enjoy the lake and nearby amenities while staying in the comfort of luxury.

With spectacular mountain views, nearby coastal waters, and numerous recreational activities it is no wonder Opunake Lake is a popular New Zealand vacation destination. Visitors can let the relaxing atmosphere soothe away their cares as they relax on sandy beaches or take a peaceful walk around Opunake Lake.

Things to do at Opunake Lake

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Park
  • Playground
  • Movie Theater
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Opunake Lake

  • Brown Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Opunake Lake Photo Gallery

    Opunake Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Completion Year: 1921

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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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