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Discover the Enigmatic Long-Finned Eels of Lake Mapourika: A Journey with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours

Discover the Enigmatic Long-Finned Eels of Lake Mapourika: A Journey with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours

by | May 22, 2023

Long Finned Eels in Lake Mapourika

Nestled on the breath-taking West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island lies the captivating Lake Mapourika, home to an ancient and mysterious creature—the long-finned eel. Known for their remarkable resilience and unique life cycle, these eels offer an intriguing glimpse into the natural wonders of this stunning region. Join us on an unforgettable adventure with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours as we uncover the secrets of Lake Mapourika and its enigmatic inhabitants.

  • A Journey through Time

    The long-finned eels (Anguilla dieffenbachii) residing in Lake Mapourika boast an impressive lineage that dates back 200 million years. These eels are considered living fossils, surviving virtually unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. Witnessing their presence is like stepping back in time, offering a rare connection to ancient ecosystems.

  • Impressive Adaptations

    The eels’ long, slender bodies and fins stretching along their backs are perfectly suited for maneuvering through the lake’s murky waters. They possess incredible swimming abilities and can even crawl on land to navigate obstacles, allowing them to move between lakes, rivers, and oceans during different stages of their life cycle.  They can climb up to 20 mters high!

  • Intriguing Life Cycle


    One of the most fascinating aspects of long-finned eels is their extraordinary life cycle. Born in the vast Pacific Ocean, they embark on an incredible journey spanning thousands of kilometers to reach the freshwater environments of Lake Mapourika. They spend decades maturing in the lake before eventually returning to their oceanic birthplace to spawn and perish. Witnessing this natural cycle firsthand is a truly awe-inspiring experience.  In order for the Eels to become female they must reach water with low levels of salt in the water, e.g fresh water lakes and rivers in the high lands. This is a major reason why the fresh water eel is endangered, as many fresh water rivers and lakes are now dammed to produce electricity.
    Eels breed only once, at the end of their life. When they are ready to do this they leave the fresh water and swim over 5000 km through the ocean from New Zealand to the deep trenches near Tonga, where they then spawn and diet.  It takes decades for eels to mature to the age to mate, the average age for males is 23 years old, and 34 years old for a female.

  • Franz Josef Wilderness Tours: A Gateway to Discovery

    To truly appreciate the magnificence of the long-finned eels, embark on a guided tour with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours. Their experienced guides possess in-depth knowledge of the region’s ecology and will lead you on a mesmerizing excursion through Lake Mapourika’s tranquil waters. Equipped with expert insights, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of these elusive creatures and the importance of preserving their delicate habitat.

    Lake Mapourika Scenic Beauty of the West Coast


  • Breathtaking Scenery

    While the long-finned eels are undoubtedly the stars of the show, Lake Mapourika itself offers a captivating backdrop for your adventure. Surrounded by lush rainforests and towering mountains, the tranquil beauty of the lake creates an immersive experience that will leave you in awe of New Zealand’s natural splendor.

Explore further with us!


Exploring Lake Mapourika and encountering the long-finned eels with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours is an opportunity to witness the extraordinary wonders of New Zealand’s South Island. From their ancient lineage to their impressive adaptability and intriguing life cycle, these remarkable creatures are a testament to the rich biodiversity and geological history of the region. Immerse yourself in this incredible journey and forge a connection with nature that will stay with you long after you bid farewell to Lake Mapourika.

Come and check out the long finned eels, and other Book Now so that you can come and witness these incredible creatures or learn more about Lake Mapourika here: