Even though it’s right next to the wildly popular Blue Lake, the Green Lake—or Rotokakahi—is a sacred lake that isn’t open to swimming, fishing, or boating. This lake is sacred to the Te Arawa tribe who are the area’s original inhabitants, as the lake was the site of important battles and numerous sacred burial grounds. In the center of the lake is a small island known as Motutawa, where not only are the remains buried of a young Maori chief, but was also the site of a 19th century slaughter at the hands of a neighboring tribe. Originally, the lake got its name from the abundance of kakahi (crayfish) found living in the sandy bottom, although the lake today is largely left to exist in its natural state The trail that encircles the neighboring Blue Lake offers views of Rotokakahi, or, for those who would prefer a bit more solitude than the sometimes crowded Blue Lake, there are a couple of walking tracks that trace the shore of Rotokakahi itself.
Lake Rotokakahi is six miles southeast of downtown Rotorua, and is accessed from the highway via Waipa South Road and then by turning on Green Lake Road. This peaceful lake is quiet and tranquil, and as a show of respect to the the Te Arawa tribe, it’s important that visitors keep it that way and leave the waters untouched.