The unspoilt beauties of Manapouri have been praised by innumerable travellers. A soft, feminine lake, a scattering of wooded islands, banks dense with bush and an horizon bounded by the Kepler Mountains; all these contribute to the fame of this favoured corner of the Fiordland National Park.
Paradoxically it was a plan to raise the lake, and so destroy much of its charm, that focused the country’s attention both on Manapouri in particular and the environment in general. The unsympathetic response from the National Government to a parliamentary petition with some 265,000 signatures contributed to its election defeat of 1972, and one of the first moves by the incoming Labour administration was to pledge that the lake would not be raised. To be the subject of such tribulations no lake could have been more appropriately named than Manapouri – „lake of the sorrowing heart“.
Unseen is the depth of the waters; the mean level is 177 metres above sea level yet between Pomona Island and West Arm the depth plunges to 414 metres, substantially below the level of the sea.
The lake affords limitless possibilities for the boat-owner, and for anglers after Atlantic salmon and brown and rainbow trout. The massive Manapouri power scheme on West Arm, that once generated more political than electrical heat, is well worthy of a visit.