Blue and Green Lakes, Rotorua - Māori names are Lake Tikitapu and Lake Rotokākahi. These two lakes sit side by side and yes, one is blue and the other is green. Both can be viewed at a midway point, accessible by car and on foot. On a good day the difference can be quite marked.
This is 'The Place to Go' to Enjoy Beautiful Scenery & Recreational Activities
Blue Lake (Tikitapu)
Green Lake (Rotokākahi)
In terms of public access, the Blue Lake is open to the public for all sorts of recreational activities. The Green Lake is privately owned therefore no public activities can take place on this lake.
Blue Lake - (Tikitapu) Information
The Blue Lake, as it's commonly known, is one of our more popular
recreational lakes. It caters for numerous activities, such as:
- Water skiing
- Jet skiing
As a collapsed volcanic crater, the lake is shallow as lakes go with the deepest section being about 27m.
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.
The Blue Lake (Tikitapu) - View about 3/4 of the way around the 5km circuit in a clockwise direction.
Blue Lake Walk/Run Circuit
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
brisk pace, or quite a bit faster when running.
TIP: 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.
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 below the road level to eventually end up at
the car-park too.
That section of track below the road gets quite rocky, and dips up and down as it winds through bush beside the water.
Lake Tikitapu, Rotorua, New Zealand - Winter's Morning Mist
As the lake has no outlet, when there's 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.
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
Terrain that can be covered by water
Small beach at base of the stairs leading up to Green Lake viewing carpark. Main swim area in the distance
A section of the track around the Blue Lake.
Steps from Blue Lake up to carpark where the Green Lake can be viewed & to continue the circuit
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.
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.
Blue Lake lakefront, the water isn't always blue
Blue Lake from carpark in between the lakes
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
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
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,
Blue Lake (aka Tikitapu) sign depicts swim/boat areas.
Blue Lake barbeque area
Green Lake - (Rotokākahi) Information
THIS LAKE IS PRIVATELY OWNED & TAPU (SACRED)
NO ACCESS for swimming, fishing, or boating of any kind.
State Highway 5 end of the Green Lake
The Green Lake (Rotokākahi) and surrounding area is privately owned by Tuhourangi
descendants who are a sub-tribe of the wider Te Arawa tribe. Control of the lake is managed by the Lake Rotokākahi Board of Control.
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? Roto (n) means Lake.
Kākahi (n) means freshwater mussel.
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
This led to a retaliation by the famous Ngapuhi
chief Hongi Hika who subsequently attacked and killed, it is said, over 1000 Te Arawa
people at Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua.
- 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.
- 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
Green Lake (Rotokākahi) looking down to the wharf
Green Lake Walk
From the Blue/Green Lake carpark, access off Tarawera Rd, there is an 11km (2h.30min) return walk along Lakefront Road. It runs
alongside the shoreline which goes all the way to the far end of the lake where there is a picnic area.
It's not frequented by too many visitors that I know
of as the road is, or was, fairly rough plus it's a long way. It might have improved by now.
I took my mum and daughter in
from the State Highway 5 end of the lake a while back because my daughter
hadn't been there before and wanted to see it from this side.
My daughter Elise at the SH5 end of Green Lake
My mum and Elise climbing stairs at SH5 end of the Green Lake
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 took at least 5 mins on rough gravel
road to get to the picnic area.
The reserve used to have
barbecues and toilets but it's all overgrown and the toilets are broken.
Update: Since that time the gate off the highway has been locked to disallow public access, possibly due to vandalism.
It's a pity because this end of the lake is a beautiful area which still has wooden steps and viewing platforms with fantastic views.
Te Kōtukutuku Bike Trail
A family-friendly one way bike trail, Te Kōtukutuku, is an easy 2.8km downhill ride, accessible via the carpark in between both lakes part-way along Tikitapu Trail. You can return on Lakefront Rd. This trail has stunning scenery and rest stops to enjoy said scenery.
As the Blue Lake is approximately 11km (6.8mi) from Rotorua city centre the accommodation selected is located at the Blue Lake and the nearby lakes (all popular) of Tarawera and Okareka. The vibe is back to fresh air and nature.
Apart from the Kiwiana Bach which sleeps up to 9, the rest sleep from 2 up to 14 and cater to a variety of budgets.
Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday Park is located right across the road from the Blue Lake (Lake Tikitapu). Cabins sleep from 2 - 8 max with a variety of options in terms of cabins with lake views, private patios or garden views, kitchenettes or shared cooking facilities, etc. Facilities are well-maintained.
Kiwiana Bach - This is the place if you like a retro-vibe harking back to the 60's. Sleeping 9, the property is located at Lake Tarawera with a cafe at The Landing a short distance away.
The Red Barn - Sleeps up to 14. A rural setting ensures tranquillity but still a short distance to Lakes Okareka and the Blue Lake. Well-equipped with all the mod-cons.
Solitaire Lodge is a luxury 5-star property set on a private peninsula on the shores of Lake Tarawera.
Suites that sleep from 2 - 4 feature views of the lake, the lagoon, or the volcanic summit of Mount Tarawera.
You don't have to leave the property as all meals can be had on-site.
Tours & Activities in the Area
Directions To The Blue And Green Lakes Rotorua
Click on the google map below for directions to the Blue and Green
Lakes from Rotorua City. It's a 16 minute drive approximately 11km
(6.8mi) from Rotorua city via Tarawera Road.
As you get closer the Blue Lake comes into view
and what a superb view it is on a still day.
On descending the hill you'll be travelling on there's a large reserve area on your right with
a beach, playground apparatus, barbeque facilities, toilets and parking.
Blue Lake Reserve and some of the carparking
Carpark in between Blue & Green Lakes