Lake Mapourika

explore LAKE MAPOURIKA

Lake Mapourika is a scenic gem on the South Island’s West Coast. The lakes beauty has been celebrated since the first settlers arrived to visit the Franz Josef Glacier in the early 1900’s. They were taken from the village in horse drawn carriage, arriving to the lake’s landing for a scenic tour in a wooden boat. We follow their footsteps today, amongst the same surreal scenery.  The forest and the wetlands have been left alone for us to enjoy in the same pristine state today.

Lake Mapourika is situated in the Franz Josef Glacier valley.  It was created approximately 14,000 years ago as the glacier retreated after a significant ice age.  Known as a Kettle Lake, it’s the largest mirror lake in the South Westland region. 

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The surrounding tall peaks leave the lake calm and mirror-like, with unbeatable panoramic views of snow fields, glaciers and some of the tallest peaks in the country.  On a clear day we can see as far as Mt. Cook & Mt Tasman which are New Zealand’s two tallest mountains.

Surrounding Lake Mapourika is some of Westland’s oldest untouched rainforest. This Jurassic age rain forest is part of the Rowi Kiwi Sanctuary which spans over 11,000 hectares. This area is the protected habitat of the rarest kiwi on the planet – the Rowi.  We also spot White Herons and many other native bush birds throughout the year.

native birds & fish species

Lake Mapourika is home to a variety of native birds, which includes the rare and endangered White Heron (kotuku) that breed nearby.  White Herons can be spotted feeding on eels and fish on the lake’s shoreline. Our tours provide excellent viewing of these birds, as the kayaks silent approach allows for close proximity.  Many other forest and bush birds, such as Fantails, Tui, Bellbirds, Wood Pigeon & Kingfishers (to name are a few) are spotted around the lake’s shoreline and on our exclusive rainforest track.  

The lake holds introduced game fish (Salmon and Brown trout) as well as wild sea-run salmon. The Lake Mapourika Jetty is an iconic photo stop off the West Coast’s State Highway 6.  However, the landscape views and the fishing are best enjoyed off shore by boat or kayak.

Our knowledgeable team of passionate kayak guides and skippers provide local insight about conservation, the flora and fauna, as well as the natural geographical history of the area.

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Our sustainable tours are conservation orientated, with a portion of all trips going towards the ongoing conservation of the Westland Tai Poutini National Park.  This region is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site so we let’s all do our part to preserve it.