Lake Wakatipu is an inland lake on the south island of New Zealand. Situated on the southwest corner of Otago. The name itself is derived from the Maori Language which literally translates to 'Hollow of the Giant'
The stories behind all such places are always interesting and give you an insight into why is it there. So this story of the Lake Wakatipu was told to me. And here how it goes...
The whole story revolves around the legend named as Manata, the daughter of the local Maori chief. Manata was so beautiful that there were many men who wanted to marry her but Manata was in love with a man named Matakauri. But she was not allowed to marry him because of their social differences.
On one fine night, a giant named Matau from the mountains kidnapped Manata. The chief was devastated and could not bear the pain. At that time, he announced that anyone who would rescue Manata from the giant, the chief will allow him to marry his daughter.
Matakauri could not let this opportunity go away. He went into the mountains and to the cave where Matau had kept Manata trapped. She was tied by the strong ropes. Matakauri observed that the Matau would fall asleep when the winds would flow.
Wakatipu Lake View from The Hill. The Legend Of The Breathing Lake Wakatipu. Image Source :- Mitali's Travel Diary
Once Matau was asleep Matakauri went to untie Manata from the ropes but ropes were so tightly tied that he could not untie it and started crying. His tears fell on the rope and ropes were dissolved because of the power of his love in his tears. Manata was rescued.
As promised chief allowed Manata and Matakauri to marry each other. But the giant was still in the mountains and Matakauri was aware that he can come back any time to kidnap Manata again.
Matakauri went back to mountains and saw the giant Matau sleeping on one side. He set him on fire. It is said that the fats in Matau's body started melting and the fire became so intense that it created a huge hollow which was almost 400 meters deep. The fire also melted the snow in the surrounding place and the hollow was filled with water. Because of which the lake was formed.
Now you know the reason for the shape of the Wakatipu lake being in form of a giant sleeping posture. The head is at Glenorchy, knees at Queenstown and feet at Kingston.
Map of the lake. The Legend Of The Breathing Lake Wakatipu. Image Source :- Google
It is also said the giant Matau's heart could never be destroyed and it still breaths; because of which the water level keeps on rising and falling after few minutes. Of course, scientists have their explanation for this as well.
But the legends are just there to give us some etymological information about the lake. Make sure to go for a walk near the lake. It is a very peaceful and serene location to be around.
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