Though not as large as its surrounding neighbors, Lake Okareka is a local favorite for swimming, fishing, and boating. Children splash in refreshing water that’s backed by deep green hills, and anglers fish for Rainbow Trout, smelt, and long-finned eels. The lake is popular with birdwatchers for the dozens of different species, and you can scan the shoreline for swans, coots, ducks, shags, pukeko, gulls, and stilts. A popular boardwalk that is wheelchair accessible hugs the shore of the lake, and it makes for a leisurely stroll through farmland that stretches down to the shore. There is a small community of holiday homes that are sprinkled around the lake, and for an authentic view of the Rotorua countryside, spend a morning on a horseback trek through the hills and surrounding farmland. Since the shimmering lake is so close to downtown Rotorua, this is an easy spot to visit on a whim if the weather suddenly seems right.
Lake Okareka is seven miles and 15 minutes southeast of Rotorua. The boardwalk trail begins at a parking lot along Acacia Bay Road, and runs for 1.5 miles, one-way, along the shore of the lake. The round-trip walk takes about 1.5 hours and passes native bush, sandy beaches, and shaded viewpoints of the lake.