Blue and Green Lakes, Rotorua - Māori names 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.
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.
The Blue Lake, as it's commonly known, is one of our more popular recreational lakes. It caters for numerous activities, such as:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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,
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.
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 attacked and killed, it is said, over 1000 Te Arawa
people at Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua.
From the 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.
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.
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.
A family-friendly bike trail, Te Kōtukutuku, is an easy 2.8km downhill ride, accessible via the Green Lake carpark. You can return on Lakefront Rd. This trail has stunning scenery and rest stops to enjoy said scenery.
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 on there's a big reserve area on your right with a beach, 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, beach area, more barbeque facilities,
plus parking and toilets. There's also a Top 10 holiday park across the
road from the lake. NB: When the lake is really full this beach all but disappears.
Continue along the same road another 1.9km (1.18mi) to access the Green Lake carpark area.
IMPORTANT: The road out to the lakes winds in some places. During winter frost, including black ice, can be on the road.
People mostly 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. There's often a caravan selling coffee at the holiday park.
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. Look for the 'Tikitapu' tab.
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