Lake Okareka, North Island, New Zealand

Lake Locations:

New Zealand - North Island - Rotorua -

One of four small crater lakes lying between Lake Tarawera and Lake Rotorua in the Rotorua District of the Bay of Plenty, Lake Okareka has always been known for its natural beauty. Lying only eight miles southeast of the city of Rotorua, the lakeshore has become an upscale bedroom community of Rotorua and favored vacation spot. Lake Okareka and its neighbors, Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake), Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake), and Lake Okataina all lie within the Okataina caldera. Less than a mile to its east, famous Lake Tarawera may draw more visitors but Okareka’s year-round residents don’t mind a bit. They have the best of both worlds; an un-busy lake paradise yet close to the ‘big city’. That’s not to say they don’t welcome visitors – many vacation rentals exist along the southern part of the lakeshore, including very exclusive lodges, spas, bed-and-breakfasts and other types of lodgings to suit every fancy and budget. The 600 villagers of Okareka are perfectly willing to share the lovely vistas and activities found at the lake, as long as everyone respects the clean clear waters and the pristine wetlands.

The crater lakes around Rotorua are unique in that most have few inlet streams and many have no surface outlet streams. It has been found that most of these lakes in close proximity exchange water via subterranean channels. Near Lake Okareka, an underground outlet stream springs from the rocks to form Waitangi waterfall half a mile from the shore. An artificial valve-controlled piping system has been built to help to control lake levels by diverting excess water into Waitangi Stream in rainy weather. This stream empties into Lake Tarawera a short distance away. Most of the shoreline of Lake Okareka is former farmland that has been replanted in native bush to restore the natural flora of the area. A great many walking trails have been developed in the area, many accessible from the loop road around the west side of the lake. Part of the trail system is boardwalk, providing access to those with disabilities.

Trout fishing is what brings anglers to Lake Okareka; as with most lakes in the Rotorua District, there are few native game fish so trout is heavily planted in area waters. Rainbow trout here grow to excellent size feeding on the native smelt. The small sheltered lake is an excellent spot for family fishing. A boat launch facility is located on Acacia Bay for lake access. All water sports are engaged in at Lake Okareka, including swimming, power boating, water skiing, jet skiing, sailing and windsurfing. Those who wish a larger lake usually head for Lake Tarawera only a mile away, leaving Lake Okareka to quiet fishermen, canoes, kayaks and pontoon boats. The heavy bush of the shoreline makes for excellent bird watching from the many walking trails near the lake. East of the lake an area of native forest is held as public land. Mountain biking trails are a popular attraction and there are many in the area.

Many visitors to Lake Okareka want to visit Mount Tarawera just east of Lake Tarawera. A semi-active volcano, Mount Tarawera last erupted in 1886 with the loss of over 150 lives and made many changes to the local landscape. The buried village of Te Wairoa is near Lake Okareka and well worth a visit to see the partially excavated village and interpretive exhibits. The crater left by the eruption can best be viewed by taking a guided tour which can explain the geothermal features and geologic changes caused by the eruption. Many natural features and historic Maori locations exist in the area and are available for visits.

West of Lake Okareka, near the road leading to Rotorua, Whakarewarewa Forest contains a large stand of California redwood trees. Planted in 1901, many of the trees are over 180 feet tall. The area is popular for hiking, mountain biking and picnicking. Other lakes near Lake Okareka, particularly Blue Lake and Green Lake, are popular tourist spots with many walking trails around the area. One popular trail travels from the Blue Lake area nearly to Lake Okareka.

Heading into Rotorua, there are plenty of adventures for the visitor to embark upon. Extreme sports are popular here, including bungee-jumping above the lake and rolling down a mountain strapped securely into a large plastic ball. The Rotorua Museum is the best place to locate local attractions and schedule cruises on Lake Rotorua to the Wildlife Reserve on Mokoia Island. The Reserve, under Maori tribal control has become a breeding ground for rare and exotic birds and is available only via chartered tour by registered guides to protect the island from invasive species and pests. Several geothermal features within Rotorua include the historic mineral baths and spas at the Bath House and the Blue Baths, boiling mud pools, active geysers and steam vent areas are available to delight the visitor.

Real Estate at Lake Okareka is sometimes available. After spending a week or more at one of the vacation rentals, the wise visitor may wish to buy a piece of Lake Okareka for their own. It’s a rare visitor who doesn’t want to become a permanent part of the Lake Okareka community. Come and see it all for yourself!

Things to do at Lake Okareka

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Okareka

  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smelt
  • Trout

Lake Okareka Photo Gallery

    Lake Okareka Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 865 acres

    Shoreline Length: 7 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,165 feet

    Average Depth: 60 feet

    Maximum Depth: 110 feet

    Water Volume: 51,556 acre-feet

    Lake Area-Population: 600

    Drainage Area: 8 sq. miles

    Trophic State: Messotrophic

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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