Best Lakes in Rotorua

The 9 Best Lakes in Rotorua Where I Found Breathtaking Backdrops, Boating, and More

Rotorua’s lakes are shockingly diverse. They come in all shapes, sizes, and temperatures!

Now, I’ve done my fair share of travelling around Rotorua and have since figured out which of these amazing pools is most worthy of a visit, whether for a swim or a last-minute Instagram photoshoot. 

If you want to see which ones I’d pick for which activity based on my experiences, here’s my list of all the top lakes in Rotorua and what makes them good!

1. Lake Rotorua

Directions: Google Maps

Lake Rotorua—this is the OG spot in town. You’ll want to take a dip in its geothermal waters. Seriously, the whole lake is like a giant hot tub, so you can chill out anywhere along the shore and soak up the scenery (and the natural heat!).

Pro Tip: Head over to Kuirau Park by the lake. It’s free to enter, and you can see all sorts of bubbling mud pools and enjoy their free foot pools!

2. Lake Tikitapu 

Directions: Google Maps

Lake Tikitapu (or Blue Lake, as we Kiwis call it), is a lake where you can always count on having a good time. Its crystal-clear water is perfect for a refreshing dip, and the sandy beach feels like a giant sandbox. Plus, there’s a killer walking track around the whole lake.

Pro Tip: Take the short but steep Pohutukawa tree track; the view from the top is totally worth the burn!

3. Lake Tarawera

Directions: Google Maps

Lake Tarawera is a dream for outdoor lovers. Fish for rainbow trout so big they’ll make your jaw drop, or take a kayak out and enjoy the scenery. If you paddle far enough, you might just make it to Hot Water Beach.

Pro Tip: Pack a picnic basket and some drinks; make a day out of your trip to Lake Tarawera.

4. Lake Rotoiti

Directions: Google Maps

Lake Rotoiti is a massive lake with tonnes of things to do! Boating, fishing for a trophy trout, or just chilling on the secluded beach. And if you’re up for an adventure, check out the Manupirua hot pools that you can only get to by boat.

Pro Tip: Skip the expensive tours and ask around at the local backpacker hostels. You might just score by heading to Manupirua for a fraction of the price.

5. Lake Rotokakahi

Directions: Google Maps

Unlike Lake Tikitapu with its fancy blue waters, Rotokahi’s all about that classic, calm lake vibe. The water is gorgeous emerald green, thanks to its sandy bottom, and it’s super shallow, so it’s perfect for a chill swim or just wading around.

Pro Tip: Rent a kayak and paddle over to the outlet that connects Rotokahi to Lake Tarawera.

6. Lake Okataina

Directions: Google Maps

Lake Okataina is all about pristine scenery and serenity. Crystal-clear water and volcanic peaks frame the horizon—the perfect backdrop for those Instagram selfies. 

If you would rather not get in the water, take a picnic with you and read a book or listen to a podcast while gazing out at the gorgeous lake.

Pro Tip: Rent a kayak to explore hidden coves around the lake.

7. Lake Rotoma

Directions: Google Maps

Lake Rotoma is not the flashiest lake around, but the water here is practically see-through. There’s no need for fancy filters; here, the natural beauty takes the cake. It’s also darn good for fishing, though with water that clear, those trout get pretty smart!

Pro Tip: Head to the Rotoma Bridle Track. It’s a short walk, but the views of the native bush are unreal, especially when the sunlight hits the rimu and tawa trees.

8. Lake Rotomahana

Directions: Google Maps

Lake Rotomahana has stunning scenery, with Mount Tarawera looming in the distance. It’s also the deepest lake in the whole Rotorua district. But the coolest part? The world-famous Pink and White Terraces are actually buried beneath the surface.  

Pro Tip: Pack a picnic and snag a spot on Mokoia Island, accessible by boat tour. It’s the spot to go if you’re a birdwatcher.

9. Lake Okareka

Directions: Google Maps

If you’re looking for a chill vibe on a Rotorua lake, check out Lake Okareka. It’s perfect for kicking back with a picnic on the beach. (Boyes Beach pure beauty) Or cast a line for some rainbow trout. 

Pro Tip: Head the Lake Okareka Walkway. It’s an easy stroll on a boardwalk that takes you right through the wetlands.