Lake Mapourika is located on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It lies north of Franz Josef Glacier, and the out-flowing Ōkārito River drains it into the Ōkārito Lagoon.
Formed by the retreating Franz Josef Glacier after the last Ice. Due to its formation it is categorised as a glacial, or kettle, lake. Lake Mapourika is the largest of the West Coast lake.
No longer filled by Glacial melt, Lake Mapourika is a warmer lake. Filled with fresh rain water which runs through the surrounding forest floor. This rain water collects tannins, giving it a dark colour. Tannins are a yellowish or brownish bitter-tasting organic substance present in some barks and plant tissues.
As the winds of the region sweep high above the mountains of the Southern Alps, the water is left unruffled and quite reflective of the forest on the lake fringes.
Perhaps surprisingly Mapourika is not a Maori name. Rather it was the name of a ship that sailed between New Zealand’s West Coast and Australia during the gold rush of the 1800s. In those days it was faster to sail from the West Coast to Australia and back to a New Zealand port than to travel overland by a more direct route.