The Quick Answers Can you swim in Lake Rotorua

The Quick Answers: Can you swim in Lake Rotorua?

When I spent a week in Lake Rotorua, I snapped a photo and sent it to my mum hoping she’d compliment my very savvy selfie skills. But alas – all she had as a response was, “Can you actually swim there?”

Well, turns out, she’s not alone in wanting to know that. Most of the people who saw my vacation photos asked the same thing! Fortunately, my week-long escapade has provided me with the answer and more, so I’ll share it with you.

Can you swim in Lake Rotorua? 

You can absolutely swim in Lake Rotorua. It’s just important to be cautious (as with any other natural body of water), when it comes to bacteria and algae – though there’s an authority dealing with that already.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council plays the role of the ultimate lifeguard here. Picture them as watchful guardians, ensuring your safety with regular water quality checks. 

They meticulously test for bacteria and algae. And if there’s even a hint of concern, consider warnings issued, ensuring your splashy adventures are as safe as they are fun.

Risks of Swimming in Lake Rotorua

Like any adventure, swimming in Lake Rotorua comes with its share of challenges:

  • Hot Springs and Geysers: Beware of nature’s hidden treasures—hot springs and geysers. While they add to the lake’s charm, they can be treacherous if not respected.
  • Underwater Currents and Hot Spots: Tricky underwater currents and hot spots lurk beneath the surface. These unseen challenges demand swimmers’ attention and respect for the lake’s natural dynamics.
  • Water Quality and Pollution: Keep an eye out for algae blooms and pollution. While the council strives to maintain water quality, occasional fluctuations might occur, making it crucial to stay informed.

Swimming Safely in Lake Rotorua

The good news is that swimming in Lake Rotorua can be a delightful experience if you adhere to a few simple guidelines:

  • Check Water Quality: Always check the water quality status on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council website before taking a plunge. It takes just a moment and ensures your safety.
  • Mind the Weather: Avoid swimming after heavy rain. Rainfall can introduce nutrients into the water, potentially leading to algal blooms.
  • Respect Nature: Stay cautious around hot springs, geysers, underwater currents, and hot spots. Vigilance ensures a safe swim.
  • Designated Swimming Areas: Whenever possible, swim in designated areas. These spots are monitored, providing an extra layer of safety through lifeguard supervision and better water quality.
  • Buddy Up: Swim with a friend and be aware of your surroundings. Having a companion significantly enhances safety, especially in remote areas.

If you’re unsure about whether or not it is safe to swim in a particular area of Lake Rotorua, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid swimming.

Safe Spots to Swim in Lake Rotorua

So what are the safe spots to swim in Lake Rotorua?

Among these gems are Lake Tikitapu and Lake Ōkāreka, nestled within the enchanting Rotorua Geothermal Zone. 

Yes, they might be geothermal wonders, but worry not! These lakes boast not only the warmth of hot springs and geysers but also the reassurance of good water quality, making them ideal havens for a serene swim.

And then there’s Ngongotaha Beach, an oasis on the western shore of Lake Rotorua. 

Frequented by locals and tourists alike, it’s a slice of paradise. The waters here, too, are generally good, offering a safe haven for swimming enthusiasts. 

But, as always, a quick check of the water quality status ensures your day at Ngongotaha Beach is as safe as it is splendid. I won’t ever get tired of reminding you of this!


It’s important to note that there are some other areas of Lake Rotorua where swimming is not permitted. These areas include the inner harbour and the area near the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.