Rotorua may be famous for its geothermic hotspots (and the not-so-great smells that go with them!), but little-known gems of Rotorua are its beautiful hidden lakes.
We’ve put together a list of 5 Rotorua lakes that you may not have heard of, but should put on your list to visit now that the weather is warming up.
Lake Rotorua is the largest lake in the district and of course, the most well known of Rotorua’s great lakes. The city has done a great job of showcasing the lake to its residents. Boardwalks, weekly markets on the lakefront and beautiful Maraes overlooking the lake’s edge add to its beauty. The name Rotorua is Māori; roto means lake and rua two – Rotorua thus meaning ‘Second Lake’.
Believe it or not, the lake formed from the crater of a massive volcano. After the eruption, the magma chamber underneath the volcano collapsed.
The island you’ll spy in the centre of Lake Rotorua is Mokoia Island, the setting of a beautiful Māori love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai – Check it out here
From chaotic beginnings to its tranquil existence nowadays, when you’re in Rotorua next, make sure you soak in this beautiful lake from its shores.
Did you know: the last major eruption was about 240,000 years ago.
2. LAKE TIKITAPU – A Tranquil Blue Lake
Famous for its striking colour, this lake is affectionately known by locals as the Blue Lake. One of the most popular lakes for swimming and kayaking, the Blue Lake also has surrounding grassy areas popular for summer picnics. This lake is well worth a visit as it’s colour is truly stunning; definitely worth making a trip in person to appreciate its natural beauty!
Did you know: The stunning blue colour of the lake is thanks to rhyolite and pumice on the lake bed.
3. LAKE TARAWERA – The Second Biggest Lake In Rotorua
Surrounded by a ring of hills and dominated by Mount Tarawera, this is one of the deeper and larger lakes of the region. There is a little pier down at the lake’s lookout, that lets you truly take in the beauty and vastness of this Rotorua lake. (If you’re lucky, the shore will have some swans to feed as well!)
During the summer the lake is popular for swimming, family picnics, water sports and fishing for the famous rainbow trout. The lake is largely fed by water flowing through the volcanic rocks and ashes.
Did you know: Tarawera means “Burnt Spear,” named by a visiting hunter who left his bird spears in a hut, and upon returning the following season found both the spears and hut had burnt to the ground.
4. LAKE ROTOMAHANA – Formed By Steam-Blast Eruptions
The most recently formed of all natural lakes in New Zealand and the deepest in the Rotorua district. Rotomahana was shaped by the 1886 Tarawera eruption. The Pink and White Terraces, which were considered to be the eighth wonder of the natural world. They were New Zealand’s most famous tourist attraction during the mid-19th century. Sadly they now lie buried below the lake.
Did you know: Lake Rotomahana exploded to 20 times its size, with a new water level 40 metres higher than previously.
5. LAKE OKAREKA – A Picturesque Township
This small and little-visited lake is a place of much charm, surrounded by hills and thick woodland. It may look straight out of a fairytale, but is only a 15-minute drive from Rotorua. Make the short trip to Lake Okareka for a stroll around the lakeside walkway, followed by a peaceful swim and picnic!
Did you Know: Okareka means “the lake of sweet food”. In early times, Māori grew sweet potatoes or kumara around the outside of the lake.
Have you visited any of these Rotorua Lakes? Have we missed any iconic Lakes? Let us know what you think in the comments below!