Blue And Green Lakes Rotorua

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Blue and Green Lakes, Rotorua - Māori names are Lake Tikitapu and Lake Rotokakahi. These two lakes sit side by side and yes, one is blue and the other is green. How weird is that?

There is a point in between where it is high enough to view both and on a good day the difference is quite marked.

Blue and Green Lakes in Rotorua - Blue Lake.The Blue Lake (Tikitapu)

Blue Lake - (Tikitapu)

The Blue Lake, as it's commonly known in Rotorua, is one of our more popular lakes. It caters for swimming, boating, water skiing, jet skiing, walking, running, biking,fishing and a variety of local events.

On driving out, the lake comes into view (such a gorgeous view on a still day) and it's easy enough to see where everyone parks up. There's a big reserve area on your right with playground apparatus, barbeque facilities, toilets and parking. 

If you continue along the road, around a sharp left-hand bend there is a water ski club, another kiddies play area, more barbeque facilities plus parking and toilets. There's also a Top 10 holiday park across the road from the lake.

The Blue Lake (Tikitapu), Rotorua, NZBlue Lake (aka Tikitapu) - Blue and Green Lakes Rotorua

As a collapsed volcanic crater, the lake is shallow as lakes go with the deepest section being about 27m.

If you're looking at it from above, in certain lights it looks quite blue/aqua/turquoise in colour. This is due to a pumice and rhyolite bottom which the sun reflects up.

This area would have to be one of my favourite lake walks in Rotorua. It's roundish (about 5km) and takes about an hour to get around if walking at a brisk pace, or quite a bit faster when running.

I usually walk clockwise along the road first so that I'm facing into oncoming traffic. I don't like cars coming up behind me, especially if there are children present, because the track is right on the roadside.

Part way along the road the track branches. You've got the option of continuing along the road which gently climbs to the Green Lake car-park (better for prams), or taking the track running parallel to the road to eventually end up at the car-park too.

The parallel section of track gets quite rocky, and dips up and down as it winds it's way through bush beside the water.

As the lake has no outlet, when there is a lot of rain the water rises over the track. In the past I have just backtracked until I could see a way to climb back up to the road. Easy peasy.

This portion of the track eventually arrives at a steep lot of stairs (going up, I'm afraid). You'll be huffing and puffing by the time you get up to the Green Lake carpark.

The pic below is how the Blue Lake is broken into  separate areas for swimming and boating - Rotorua seagulls not included. I guess it has to be spelled out when water skiers and jet skis are zooming around.

Blue and Green Lakes, Rotorua - Blue Lake at the swimming/boating areaBlue Lake (aka Tikitapu) - Blue and Green Lakes Rotorua

At the entrance to the Green Lake car-park (to the left of the top of the stairs) there is a small hill with a dozen or so steps. Here you can take in a spectacular view of both lakes if the shrubs haven't grown too big.

From the hill, head to the end of the car-park and go through the gate onto the forestry trail. There is signage so don't worry about getting lost.

A kilometre or so in, the trail branches, to the left is a steep road down to the Green Lake and the right continues around the Blue Lake.

In some places you're way up high above the waterline and in others right on the edge of it. The track can be wide, then it can be extremely narrow. When the lake is still and looks like a mirror, it's a magical place, good for the soul.

Walking track around the Blue Lake (Tikitapu), Rotorua, New Zealand.A section of the track around the Blue Lake.

If you're out there for swimming... the water is freezing. Yet it's still a popular place for swimming in the summer… can't say it's for me, I prefer Lake Tarawera as it's a whole lot warmer.

I've swum in the Blue Lake in the winter wearing a wetsuit (training for an event), and boy was it cold. Practically had hypothermia by the time I got out… not swimming fast enough huh?

I've also had family members and friends taking part in triathlons that involved a short swim in the lake (why in winter is my question). They were in swimsuits and could barely catch their breaths because of the iciness, brrrr.

Green Lake - (Rotokakahi)

It's strange how things go. The Green Lake is 21m (69ft) below the level of the Blue Lake. An outlet from this flows into Lake Tarawera (further along Tarawera Rd) which is then 98m (322ft) lower again than the Green Lake. Told you - strange.

Autumn at the Green Lake (Rotokakahi), Rotorua, NZ.Autumn at the Green Lake (aka Rotokakahi) - Blue and Green Lakes Rotorua

In the right conditions the Green Lake is quite emerald green in colour due to it being more shallow than the Blue Lake and the fact it has a sandy bottom.

It is privately owned by Tuhourangi descendants who are a sub-tribe of the wider Te Arawa tribe and it's managed by the Lake Rotokakahi Board of Control.

Prior to the eruption of Mt Tarawera, the lake was well utilised by the local māori population, especially for the native Kakahi shellfish. Can you see where the name of the lake comes from now?

A small island on the lake, by the name of Motu-tawa, is the burial ground for not only numerous ancestors of the tribe but also Pae-o-te-rangi, a young Ngaphui chief and his party who were killed by the Tuhourangi people.

This led to a retaliation by the famous Ngapuhi chief Hongi Hika who subsequently killed, it is said, over 1000 Te Arawa people at Mokoia Island on Lake Rotorua.

The Green Lake - Rotokakahi, is very sacred (tapu) to the Rotorua Te Arawa people so there is no fishing, boating or swimming.

Blue and Green Lakes,Rotorua - Green Lake at the SH5 endGreen Lake (aka Rotokakahi) - Blue and Green Lakes Rotorua

From the Green Lake carpark, off Tarawera Rd, an old forestry road runs along the shoreline which goes all the way through to State Highway 5.

It's not frequented by too many visitors that I know of as it's quite rough in places and it takes quite a while to get to the other end if you're walking.

I took my mum and daughter in from the State Highway 5 end of the lake recently because my daughter hadn't been there before and wanted to see it from this side.

It took me a while to find the entrance as I hadn't been out there for years and there were no signs to indicate where to go. Once we found the right forestry road it takes at least 5mins on rough gravel road to get to the lake reserve.

The reserve used to have barbecues and toilets but it's all overgrown and the toilets are broken so obviously it's not encouraged to go in via this end anymore.

I have to wonder if it's because it is a steep walk down to the lakeside or maybe because of the sacredness of the area.

It's a pity because this end of the lake is a beautiful area which still has wooden steps and viewing platforms etc.

Getting To The Blue And Green Lakes Rotorua

The google map below tells you how to get out to the Blue and Green Lakes from Rotorua City.

View Blue and Green Lakes Rotorua in a larger map

Food & Drink

People often take picnic lunches, make use of the shop across the road at the Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday Park or use the lakeside gas barbeque facilities.

A Blue Lake bumble bee - Rotorua, NZRandom I know, how do you like my bumble bee pic? Taken at the Blue Lake.

Parking & Toilets

Plenty of parking is available at the northern end of the Blue Lake and in between the two lakes.Toilets and changing rooms can be found at the northern end of the Blue Lake also.


Numerous events are held at the Blue Lake. If you would like to check in advance, upcoming event information can be found at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council website. Instead of downloading the pdf file scroll down the page until you get to the Blue Lake info.


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