Lake Te Anau

From Academic Kids

Lake Te Anau is located in the southwestern corner of the South Island of New Zealand. Its name was originally Te Ana-au, Maori for 'The cave of swirling water'.

The lake covers an area of 344 km2, making it the second largest lake in New Zealand (after Lake Taupo) and the largest in the South Island. The main body of the lake runs north-south, and is 65 kilometres in length. Three large fiords form arms to the lake on its western flank - these are imaginatively named North Fiord, Middle Fiord, and South Fiord. Several small islands lie in the entrance to Middle Fiord, which forks partway along its length into northwest and southwest arms. The lake lies at an altitude of 210 metres, and since its maximum depth is 270 metres, much of its bed lies below sea level.

Several rivers feed the lake, of which the most important is the Eglinton River, which joins the lake from the east, joining the lake opposite the entrance to North Fiord. The outflow of the lake is at its southernmost point. The Waiau River flows south from here for several kilometres before entering Lake Manapouri. The town of Te Anau lies at the southeastern corner of the lake's shore, close to the outflow.

Most of the lake is within the boundaries of Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. Other than Te Anau township, the only human habitation close to the lake is the farming settlement of Te Anau Downs, close to the mouth of the Eglinton River. Between these two settlements the land is rolling hill country, but on all other sides the land is mountainous, especially along its western shore, where the Kepler and Murchison Mountains rise 1400 metres above the surface of the lake.

The Milford Track skirts the northern tip of the lake.

Several species of endangered birds live around the shores of Lake Te Anau, notably the takahe or notornis. An area between the Middle and south Fiords is a sanctuary set aside for these birds. The western shore of the lake also features the Te Ana-au Caves, from which the lake gets its name.

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