The Waikato region has more than 100 lakes, ranging from small ponds to the largest lake in New Zealand, Lake Taupo. Find out where our larger lakes are. Check out how clean Lake Taupo is for swimming. Waikato Regional Council is looking at ways to protect Waikato’s lakes and restore those with poor water quality.
Demand for farmland and urban development close to water has meant that most of our lakes are now much smaller and shallower than they were in the early 1900s. Some lakes have been completely drained and turned into pasture.
Lakes tend to collect pollutants over time because their waters are still, unlike rivers where moving waters carry pollutants away. More intensive use of land in lake catchments means many lakes now receive more nutrient and sediment loads than in the past. Nutrients encourage nuisance plant growth, such as water weeds and algal scums. Check out our factsheets about nutrient enrichment of lakes and how land use affects Lake Taupo.
Waikato Regional Council monitors the water quality of lakes using four main trophic indicators:
The five trophic states determined by these indicators are:
Check out our Nutrient Enrichment of Shallow Lakes indicator for more information on the water quality of the region's lakes.
There are now community Lakecare groups looking after several of our peat and lower Waikato River lakes in the Waikato region. Lake Ngaroto is also the focus of a major rehabilitation project.
Waikato Regional Council, works with community groups and other management agencies to set water levels for peat lakes to help protect these unique ecosystems for the future. Peat lake ecosystems are easily damaged by over drainage of neighbouring land.
Project Watershed (external link) involves Waikato Regional Council's land and river-based works and services in the greater Waikato catchment. The soil conservation schemes under Project Watershed are designed to protect the Lake’s water quality and the land surrounding it from the effects of erosion. The work done includes:
Learn more about Māori and their connection to fresh water.