Thirteen major lakes and a variety of geothermal areas and scenic reserves can be found in the Rotorua Lakes area.
Located near Rotorua, Blue Lake is popular with water skiers, swimmers and boaties. You can follow an easy walking track that circles around the lake.
Location: Blue Lake is 9 km south-east of Rotorua, via Te Ngae Road then Tarawera Road.
Kaharoa Conservation Area
Kaharoa and the adjoining Onaia Ecological Area are renowned for the endangered kokako. You can walk the Kokako Track through forest to a secluded spot at Onaia Stream.
Location: Kaharoa Conservation Area is located 36 km north of Rotorua.
Lake Okataina Scenic Reserve
Just 22 kilometres north-east of Rotorua, Lake Okataina Scenic Reserve is home to a number of species of native birds.
Location: Lake Okataina Scenic Reserve is 22 km north-east of Rotorua on Okataina Road, off State Highway 30.
Lake Rerewhakaaitu Recreational Reserves
Camping, picnicking and boating are all popular recreational activities at Lake Rerewhakaaitu. A significant site for wildlife, the lake supports breeding populations of dabchicks, scaup and banded dotterel.
Location: Lake Rerewhakaaitu is 29 km south-east of Rotorua. For vehicle access to the lake, turn off State Highway 5 onto State Highway 38 and then onto Rerewhakaaitu Road.
Lake Rotoiti has a navigable water link with Lake Rotorua and features a number of significant historic sites.
Location: Okere Falls Scenic Reserve is 21km from Rotorua on Trout Pool Road off SH 33. Hinehopu/Hongi Track is 20 km north-east of Rotorua off State Highway 30.
Lake Tarawera Scenic Reserve
At Lake Tarawera Scenic Reserve you can visit Tarawera Landing, The Orchard, Humphries Bay and Hot Water Beach.
Location: Lake Tarawera Scenic Reserve is 18 kilometres southeast of Rotorua on Tarawera Road, off Te Ngae Road.
Mokaihaha Ecological Area
Mokaihaha Ecological Area, in Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park, is rich in Maori history and has high conservation and scientific values. Walkers on the Mokaihaha Track can listen to the calls of tui, kereru, bellbirds and fantail.
Location: Mokaihaha Ecological Area is situated on the Mamaku Plateau, 9.6 km south-east of the Mamaku township on South Rd.
Okere Falls Scenic Reserve
This reserve has significant Maori cultural and spiritual value. It features the waterfalls of the Kaituna River and is the site of New Zealand’s first hydro-electic power station.
Alert: Dangerously strong currents and waterfalls. Please keep to the track.
Location: Okere Falls Scenic Reserve is located 21 km from Rotorua on Trout Pool road off SH 33 (the Rotorua to Tauranga highway). Okere Falls Scenic Reserve is located on the banks of the Kaituna river draining out of Lake Rotoiti.
Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve
Located 26 kilometres south-east of Rotorua, Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve contains a number of plants which are unique to geothermal areas. The popular Crater Lakes Walk is a one-hour return hike.
Location: The Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve is located 26 km south east of Rotorua on State Highway 5.
Whakarewarewa Forest Conservation Park
Whakarewarewa Forest Conservation Park holds mountain bike tracks that network in with the other tracks of the Whakarewarewa Forest.
Location: Located between the Whakarewarewa Forest and Lake Tikitapu. The easiest way to reach this area is from going through the Waipa Mill south of Rotorua.