March 19, 2019

Here at KJet we’re lucky to be able to provide Jet boat trips across Lake Wakatipu and down the mighty Kawarau and Shotover Rivers.

Many first-time visitors to Queenstown may not know the romantic māori legend of Lake Wakatipu, which was carved out of the last ice age 15,000 years ago by a huge glacier.

A distinctive ‘S’ shape, legend tells the creation of Lake Wakatipu with the romantic story of two star crossed lovers, the young warrior Matakauri and Manata, the beautiful daughter of a Māori chief, who forbade their love.

One night, a cruel taniwha (giant) called Matau kidnapped Manata and took her away and hid her in his mountain lair. Manata’s father was so distraught about losing his daughter, he declared that any warrior that was able to rescue her, could have her hand in marriage.  

Matakauri figuring that this was the way to prove his love, accepted this challenge. He however knew that the next time the warm wind blew from the north-west, the taniwha would be put to sleep.

Soon enough the wind blew and as the taniwha lay sleeping, Matakauri attempted to rescue the chief’s daughter, but a magical rope made from a two-headed dog tied Manata to the taniwha and Matakauri could not cut through it. In despair, Manata began to sob but her love for Matakauri was so great, when her tears fell on the rope it dissolved and she was able to break free.

The couple fled, and were married as promised by Matau’s father.

After the wedding, Matakauri decided to deal with the taniwha once and for all, and waited again for the warm north-west wind to blow, and the giant was asleep. Matakauri set fire to Matau to ensure he would never steal Manata again. The taniwha’s body melted, creating a deep gouge in the earth which filled with melted ice and snow. The large ‘S’ shaped lake left in his place forms Lake Wakatipu, which translates as the ‘hollow of the sleeping giant’.

People say that the only part of Matau’s body that didn’t burn was his heart, which still beats in the lake, creating the mysterious, rhythmic 20cm rise and fall of it’s the lakes waters. Scientific explanation names this phenomenon a seiche – a standing wave that passes by every 27 minutes which causes the water level to rise and fall by 20cm, triggered by wind and atmospheric changes.

If you’d like to see the māori legend of Lake Wakatipu come to life, book our underwater cinematic experience Time Tripper now!

  • KJet Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown
  • Aerial views over Queenstown
  • Queenstown Underwater Observatory