We can't stop flooding but we can learn to live with it by being prepared.

Lake Wakatipu and Lake Wanaka are prone to flooding. Major floods in 1995 and 1999 caused a lot of damage to the central business districts in Queenstown and Wanaka, and some residential areas in Kingston and Glenorchy.

Despite having large catchment areas that are prone to heavy rain and snowmelt, both Lake Wanaka and Lake Wakatipu rise relatively slowly due to their large surface areas. This characteristic of the lakes in which the lake surface rises slowly and in response to particular weather conditions means that the development of a flood event can be reliably monitored and the affected community’s afforded long-lead times; typically several days, in which to prepare for inundation.

Monitoring Lake Levels

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) operates an extensive network of hydrological rain and river flow gauge stations in the Kawarau and Upper Clutha catchments to assist with heavy rain monitoring and flood warning for Queenstown, Glenorchy and Kingston and Wanaka. These water monitoring sites can be viewed online by visiting the Otago Regional Council Water Info Website

Lake levels are also physically monitored by QLDC staff during heavy rainfall.

Trigger Levels

  First warning level Standby level Flood (low lying areas)
Lake Wakatipu 310.8m 311.1m 311.3m
Lake Wanaka 279.4m 279.8m 280.0m

Reaching this first warning level does not mean there’s a flood. It simply means that the Council will begin communicating with businesses and residents that could be affected by a flood and encouraging them to begin implementing their own flood management plan.

Flood Information Brochures

The following brochures have some good simple advice on how to make plans to reduce possible effects of flooding on your building.