10 FABULOUS FREE THINGS TO DO IN ROTORUA Enter email for instant access
Blue And Green Lakes Rotorua
There's something for everyone...
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.
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.
Blue 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.
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.
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.
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 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
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
Blue 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.
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.
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
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,
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 (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
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.
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?
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 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.
Green 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
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.
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.
"We are a family of four from Sydney Australia and love nature - bush to beach. We love your website and found your tips on things to do in Rotorua very valuable - exactly what we look for in destinations." Anita —Sydney
"Thank you Karen! I think you site is wonderful. We followed your ideas today for blue lake and green lake, and went to the Landing Cafe first, brilliant we would have missed Lake Tarawera otherwise and it is so beautiful and peaceful." Rosie
"Thank you for your prompt response. I have managed to get a great deal through 'book me', so once again thank you so much. Great service. " :-) Chris
"Awesome website all about Rotorua. Well done Karen Shelford." Amiria Tomoana - Global Traveller
"Yes, really worthwile information for those visiting Rotorua. Take it from someone who used it. Thank you, so much easier." Karen Hubbard - Sydney, Australia
your website is the best resource for planning a trip there that I have
encountered! It answers all of the questions you end up having after
reading other sites, and presents information in such a clear and
concise way. ... wish I'd encountered your site before printing off reams of info that will probably be whittled down to one page. ... hope the local government and tourism people realise what a great asset and ambassador they have in you! :P" Vicky Fairchild - Auckland, New Zealand