The inflow of Lake Wakatipu forms the Dart River at the northern end of the lake. The Kawarau River, which adjoins the lake at the height of Queenstown and continues to the east, forms the outflow of the lake. In the lake, the water level rises and falls at regular intervals by about 200 mm due to the Seiche, which is particularly strong in alpine lakes.
The lake is important for tourism due to its location at the foot of the Remarkables. The area around the lake is the center of extreme sports, such as bungee jumping. There are also extensive ski areas, hiking trails around the lake and an old steamboat, the TSS Earnslaw, operates regularly on the lake. Lake Wakatipu is a station on the Southern Scenic Route.