Lake Okareka is a local favorite for swimming, fishing, and boating. Children splash in refreshing water, surrounded by green hills, and anglers fish for rainbow trout, smelt, and long-finned eels. The lake is also popular with bird-watchers; visitors scan the shoreline for swans, coots, ducks, shags, pukeko, gulls, and stilts.
A popular wooden boardwalk hugs the shore of Lake Okareka; it makes for a leisurely stroll through farmland that stretches down to the shore, and there is a small community of holiday homes sprinkled around the lake. The round-trip walk takes about 1.5 hours and passes native bush, sandy beaches, and shaded viewpoints of the lake.
Many visitors tour this area with a 2-hour amphibious Duck cruise that takes in other natural highlights. For an authentic view of the Rotorua countryside, spend a morning on a guided horseback trek through the hills.
Things to Know Before You Go
- On a Duck tour; the amphibious vehicle splashes down onto Lake Okareka and Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake).
- Birders should bring binoculars to search the wetlands for shorebirds.
- The Okareka Walkway is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs.
How to Get There
Lake Okareka is located about 7 miles (12 kilometers) southeast of Rotorua. The boardwalk trail begins at a parking lot along Acacia Bay Road, and runs for 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) along the shore of the lake. Guided sightseeing tours of the Lakes usually include round-trip transportation from hotels in Rotorua.
When to Get There
Because 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. It’s open daily, year-round, so there’s really no bad time to visit. Leave plenty of time to explore, and plan ahead for changing weather conditions.
Off the Beaten Path
Those searching for solitude away from the tourist crowds will find solace at Lake Okareka and its charming lakeside community. Family-friendly recreational activities tend to be quieter here than at the Blue Lake, and it’s easy to become enchanted by the picturesque surroundings of rolling green hills and native forest.