Though it’s right next to the wildly popular Blue Lake, the Green Lake—or Rotokakahi—is a privately owned lake that isn’t open to swimming, fishing, or boating. It is sacred to the Te Arawa iwi (tribe), who are the area’s original Maori inhabitants, because the lake was the site of important battles and numerous sacred burial grounds.
Rotokakahi originally was named for the abundance of kakahi (crawfish) living in the lake. Though water sports are prohibited, those seeking solitude may prefer its shores over the sometimes crowded Blue Lake. Hikers will enjoy a couple of trails that trace the shoreline. Narrated helicopter and seaplane flights depart from Rotorua and soar above the geothermal landscapes of Mt. Tarawera and the North Island’s crater lakes.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Scenic tours with a guide provide access to multiple lakes and other attractions.
- This quiet lake is peaceful and has been largely left to exist in its natural state.
- As a show of respect to the Te Arawa tribe, visitors must maintain the tranquil atmosphere and leave the waters untouched.
How to Get There
Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake) lies about 6 miles (10 kilometers) southeast of downtown Rotorua. The Maroi site is reached from the highway via Waipa South Road and then by turning on Green Lake Road. The trail that encircles the neighboring Blue Lake also offers views of Rotokakahi. Guided sightseeing tours include round-trip hotel transport from Rotorua.
When to Get There
Green Lake is accessible daily, year-round, so there’s really no bad time to visit. Because activities mainly consist of hiking the perimeter on a forest walk, leave plenty of time and plan ahead for changing weather conditions.
Why the Lake Is Sacred to the Maori
In the center of the lake stands a small island known as Motutawa, where the remains of a young Maori chief are buried. It was also the site of a 19th-century slaughter at the hands of a neighboring tribe. Because this ancestral place is especially significant to the local people, the island and the entire lake are considered tapu (sacred).