The Rotorua area boasts dozens of lakes, but Lake Rotorua is larger, deeper, and older than its neighbors. Geologists believe that Rotorua, the second-largest lake on the North Island, dates back more than 200,000 years, while most of the region’s other waterways were created by the Tarawera eruption of 1886.
Lake Rotorua is surrounded by a geothermal playground and offers a variety of activities for travelers. Visitors may take a cruise through the Ohau Channel, which connects with Lake Rotoiti, and relax with a soak at the remote Manupirua Thermal Springs. Tour options include kayaking along the lakeshore, jetting around on a speedboat, or hurtling over falls on a white-water rafting trip.
Among other specialized tours are seaplane flights, which include a thrilling water takeoff and landing, and helicopter tours that offer aerial views of the city and lake. Adventure travelers may opt for a solo or tandem parasailing experience above Lake Rotorua. Horseback rides and 4WD buggy tours take travelers off the beaten path. Combine your adventure with a day trip to the Blue and Green lakes and bubbling geysers.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This natural feature is hard to miss, and is a must-see for visitors to Rotorua.
- A large grassy area includes a children’s playground.
- Wheelchair-accessible walkways make for easy strolling.
- Outdoor activities last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, while day trips take you to other lakes and beyond.
- A 10-minute Skyline Rotorua gondola ride guarantees panoramic views from the summit of Mt. Ngongotaha.
- Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of water.
How to Get There
The shores of Lake Rotorua are only 10 minutes north of downtown Rotorua by car. Many tours and day trips offer convenient hotel pickup and drop-off, and there is ample parking available for those who opt to self-drive. Walking and public transport options are within easy reach of most accommodations.
When to Get There
Lake Rotorua is open year-round. Sunrise and sunset are especially good times for photo ops, whether you’re walking along the shore, taking a cruise, or setting out for a romantic evening stroll or family picnic. Sunny days in warmer months are ideal for water sports, but mud baths and thermal pools are perfect in winter.
What’s in the Lake?
Though it’s not as large as neighboring Lake Taupo and not as nice for swimming, Lake Rotorua offers plentiful activities and views. The 920-foot (280-meter) elevation makes Rotorua’s water cooler than some other lakes in the region. The water’s green hue comes from sulfur and minerals. The lake is also alive with fish; go fly fishing for trout and try to reel in a big one!