History of Lake Coleridge
The Lake Coleridge landscape has been formed over millions of years. Massive glaciers, earthquakes, wind, rain, frost, snow and volcanoes have all helped to form the landscape we have today.
Early Maori called the lake Whakamatau. The area had a plentiful eels and birds and was an important food gathering stop for people crossing the Southern Alps seeking greenstone (pounamu) from the West Coast.
The first Europeans arrived in the mid 1800s. They were surveyors investigating routes to West Coast gold fields. They named the area after members of the Canterbury Association (responsible for mapping Canterbury for European settlement), who were nephews of English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Run-holders settled soon after, taking up vast tracts of land for farming, which is still the area's main industry.
Lake Coleridge was ideal for the New Zealand Government's first hydroelectric power station because of its geography and its location near the growing city of Christchurch.
Lake Coleridge is 170 metres above the Rakaia River, so only gravity is needed to bring water from the lake through the power station, emptying into the Rakaia River below.
Construction workers arrived in 1911 to a wild and bleak landscape. Initially they were housed in tents and sheds. The winters were harsh which prompted the building of some permanent housing. Building the power station was a massive and dangerous undertaking. It took three years to complete, becoming operational on 25th November 1914.
These canvas prints are sized 28x40 with slight variations in size to show the photograph as it should be seen.