Lakes and lagoons

Southland contains several large, iconic lakes that are valued highly by people for aesthetic, cultural, recreational and economic reasons.

Their unique ecological values are also important for sustaining land and water-based life. Pressures exist on many of our lakes and lagoons, from the intensification of surrounding land use, lake side communities and hydroelectric power. Waituna Lagoon located in Awarua, Southland, is both nationally and internationally significant. The lagoon was one of the first sites in the world to be named "a wetland of international significance" under the RAMSAR Convention.

Where we monitor

Environment Southland regularly monitors indicators of water quality in Lake Te Anau, Lake Manapouri and Waituna Lagoon. In addition, spot sampling of water quality has occurred in a number of small, coastal lakes (i.e. Lake Vincent, Lake George, Forest Lake and the reservoir).

Lake Te Anau

From February 2000 to July 2007, samples were collected every month in Lake Te Anau (2 sites) and Lake Manapouri (three sites), but since July '07 monitoring has been conducted quarterly due to the excellent quality of water. Both lakes are considered natural state waters and have very clean water. In terms of water quality, they are in the top 10% of lakes monitored in New Zealand.

Waituna Lagoon

Four sites in Waituna Lagoon have been monitored monthly since August 2003, with earlier monitoring at the East site since Oct 2001. Since March 2011 there have been changes to the monitoring regime, with increased sampling occurring when the lagoon closes off from the sea.

Water quality results from our lakes and lagoons are also compared against national guidelines/standards, and the council's Regional Water Plan water quality standards and targets.

Where can I view monitoring information?

You can view a wide range of environmental information on Southland’s lakes and lagoons on the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa website. This website displays state and trend information for Lake Manapouri and Lake Te Anau, giving you access to water quality monitoring in a common, easy to understand format. You can also view sites from around the country.

For monitoring data from the Waituna lagoon, please visit


Page reviewed: 25 Jul 2018 11:49am