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Lake Karapiro
Lake Karapiro
Lake Karapiro
Location of Lake Karapiro
Location of Lake Karapiro
Lake Karapiro
Location in North Island
Location North Island
Coordinates 37°55′43″S 175°32′40″E / 37.92856°S 175.544529°E / -37.92856; 175.544529
Lake type reservoir
Primary inflows Waikato River
Primary outflows Waikato River
Basin countries New Zealand
First flooded April 1947 (1947-04)
Max. length 11.0 kilometres (6.8 mi)
Max. width 0.9 kilometres (0.56 mi)
Surface area 7.7 km2 (3.0 sq mi)
Average depth 11.0 metres (36.1 ft)
Max. depth 30.5 metres (100 ft)
Water volume 0.085 cubic kilometres (0.020 cu mi)
Surface elevation 50.5–53.5 metres (166–176 ft)
Aerial View of Karapiro Hydro Power Station
Karapiro Dam and Lake Karapiro in February 1969.

Lake Karapiro (Karāpiro) is an artificial reservoir lake on the Waikato River at Karapiro, 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) south-east of Cambridge in New Zealand's North Island. The lake was formed in 1947 by the damming of the Waikato River to store water for the 96-megawatt Karapiro power station. The lake is also one of two premier rowing venues in New Zealand (alongside Lake Ruataniwha in Canterbury) and is the base for the country's high-performance rowing programme.


'Kara' means stone (dark basalt), 'piro' means evil-smelling. According to legend, Karapiro was the stronghold of the chief O-Te-Ihingarangi, and was where the Ngati Haua and their Tauranga allies made a defensive pact during the land wars of 1864.

Hydroelectric power

The 96-megawatt Karapiro Power Station is located adjacent to the dam at the head of the lake, and is the eighth and last hydroelectric power station located on the Waikato River. Water for the power station up to 362 cubic metres per second (12,800 cu ft/s) at full power, is taken from the lake and passed through three Kaplan turbines in the powerhouse, before being deposited into the lower Waikato River. Each turbine turns a 32 MW generator, and the electricity from the generators is fed into Transpower's national transmission grid. The station is a base load generator due to its need to maintain water flows into the Waikato River system beyond the lake.

The ten-megawatt Horahora Power Station at Horahora, 13 km upstream of Karapiro Dam, part of an earlier hydroelectric power scheme, was flooded with the formation of Lake Karapiro.

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