Lake Tarawera

Fish for rainbow trout, swim at a beach with hot spring water and hike to waterfalls set amid majestic scenery at this vast, intense-blue lake.

Watersports and jaw-dropping natural beauty feature at beautiful Lake Tarawera. This is one of New Zealand’s largest lakes and a superb place to enjoy boating, fishing and hiking activities. Once home to a collection of Māori settlements, tragedy struck Lake Tarawera in 1886 when the peaks of Mount Tarawera erupted and buried the communities. The eruptions rose the lake by around 39 feet (12 meters) and left behind an area of tranquil landscapes.

A great way to experience the lake and its surrounding is along picturesque trails. The Isthmus Track, example, connects the southernmost shores with Lake Rotomahana. Follow the banks of the Tarawera River to Tarawera Falls, where milky-white water flows out of cracks in the cliffs. Set out on the 7.5-mile (12-kilometer) round trip to Humphries Bay picnic site.

Visit the Buried Village of Te Wairoa to see the archaeological remains of one of the Māori villages destroyed by the eruption. Browse interactive museum exhibits about the lake’s history. Children can have fun solving clues on an archaeological treasure hunt. Marvel at the panoramic views from Waitoharuru Valley Lookout.

Wander through untamed scrubland from Te Wairoa to Hot Water Beach. Take a therapeutic swim in the beach’s bubbling, curative water. Swimming is also possible in the crystalline water at beaches scattered around the lakeshore. Cruises depart from the boat landings and present an alternative view of the picture-perfect surroundings. Go fishing for trophy-sized rainbow trout from October to June.

The lake is just a 25-minute drive from Rotorua and about a 3-hour journey by car from Auckland. Parking is available at the boat jetties. Organized tours operate regularly from Rotorua and include activities such as walking and boat trips.

You can visit Lake Tarawera year-round, although be prepared for cooler temperatures from June to August.