Lake Level

Lake Opuha’s water level varies significantly depending on the amounts of snowmelt, rainfall, and water usage. Use the link below to view the Environment Canterbury (ECan) river flow data of Lake Opuha at the dam:


Lake Opuha is a 700 hectare lake created by the construction of the Opuha Dam at the head of the Opuha River gorge. .  The lake functions as an irrigation reservoir.  Hidden away in a sheltered valley in the Fairlie Basin in the Mackenzie Country, 12km from Fairlie the lake’s recreational uses include fishing, swimming, boating, kayaking and water skiing.

Winter and spring river flow is stored in the lake and released in summer for irrigation, stock watering, horticulture and industrial use.   Outflow from the lake generates electricity via a small-scale hydro 7.5MW electric plant.  The Opuha River then flows south-east to join the Opihi River downstream.

Recreational Activities

Lake Opuha is well known for its great fishing, boasting three introduced species of fish –  rainbow trout, brown trout, and salmon. Rainbow trout came from the Opuha River, before the dam was built. Brown trout and salmon were introduced to the lake following its formation.

Power boats are allowed on the lake, with boat ramps located at Mackenzie District Council (MDC) recreational reserves on Bennett’s Road in the south, and Hayes Road in the north. A water ski lane is located in the north-east Arm of the lake.

The Bennetts Road reserve is a fantastic spot for swimming. This site is monitored for recreational water quality during the summer months. Details on the water quality can be found here. There are plenty of spaces for picnics in the recreational reserves, with a carpark and public toilets available at Bennetts Road reserve. A walking track follows the perimeter of the lake, providing outstanding views of the ake with an impressive mountain backdrop.

Responsible camping is permitted at Lake Opuha at the three designated camp areas. There are camping restrictions including stay limits and no-camping dates. Check out the MDC website for up-to-date information.

How to get there?

Turn off SH79 heading out of Fairlie and follow Clayton Road toward Lake Opuha. There are three main entry points: Bennett’s Road, Opuha Gorge Road and Hays Road.


Bennet’s Road Boat Ramp & Picnic Area Reserve

Bennetts Road, Ashwick Flat 7987

Hayes Road Boat Ramp & Picnic Area Reserve

Hayes Road, Ashwick Flat 7987

Lake Opuha Dam Boat Ramp

124 Opuha Dam Road, Fairlie 7987