The clearest lake in the world

Posted on 17 April 2020

The Nelson Tasman region of New Zealand’s South Island is home to the clearest lake in the world. Located in Nelson Lakes National Park, Blue Lake falls within a conservation area, which helps maintain the freshest, clearest water known to man.

Image by Klaus Thymann of Project Pressure and supported by New Zealand Department of Conservation, NIWA and New Zealand Tourism.

Visibility is so clear, you can see up to 76 metres, which is about as clear as looking into distilled water. In the Māori language, Blue Lake is known as Rotomairewhenua, and is considered sacred to the local Māori tribe, the Ngāti Apa.

To reach this body of water, you first need to hike there, and it is found off the Travers-Sabine multi-day hiking circuit. One of the reasons it remains so clear and clean is that visitors are not allowed to enter the lake or swim in it. Visitors to the park are able to overnight in hiking huts along the trail.

This lake, roughly 1,200 metres above sea level, is also fed by a lake a bit higher up within the 102,000-hectare national park. Apart from having fresh water flowing through it constantly, the upper lake is also above the treeline, and so free from falling debris from tree leaves and other foliage.

From time-to-time, the lake can get a bit murky, but this is usually after heavy rainfall, which sweeps organic debris and items into the waters. The lake water clears up soon enough thanks to the flow of water from above.

While off-limits to visitors, see for yourself how inviting these clear waters can be:


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Blue lake…clearest natural fresh water in the world #teararoa #tamemories #bluelake #rotomairewhenua #nelsonlakesnationalpark

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Image: Klaus Thymann/Project Pressure 

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