Dazzling Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand's longest lake. Shaped like an inverted "n" it is a highlight of a trip to Queenstown, which nestles against a curve near the middle of the lake. During the last ice age a huge glacier carved out the lake, which sinks to a depth of 1,300 feet (400 meters).The surrounding mountains that fed the glacier provide a dramatic backdrop to the crystal waters.
Atmospheric pressures cause the lake to rise and fall about 5 inches (12 centimeters) every 5 minutes. This gave rise to the Maori legend that the rise and fall of the water is the heartbeat of a giant who lies slumbering under the water.
The magnificent lake was the location for the Lothlorein scenes in The Lord of the Rings movie. If you’d like to get out on the water the most genteel way is to climb aboard the refurbished vintage steamship the TSS Earnslaw. Cruises across the lake will take you to Walter Peak where you can see a working high-country farm.
If you’re a bungy enthusiast you’ll know that Kawarau River is the site of the world's first commercial bungy. It’s still possible to take a dive from the bridge that started it all. On your way down you’ll see the trademark sky-blue water and green cliffs of Kawarau River, you might even touch the water!
The river is extremely popular with thrill seekers who come for river surfing, riverboarding and jet boating. The white-water rafting is particularly excellent with rapids to suit beginners to experienced rafters and some calm stretches where you can rest and take in the spectacular scenery. More sedate history seekers come to check out the gold-miners huts and relics from the river’s gold-rush days.