Lake Rotoma, North Island, New Zealand

Lake Locations:

New Zealand - North Island - Rotorua -

Lake Rotoma is a remarkable lake. The lake is the easternmost in a chain of three lakes northeast of Lake Rotorua. Here in the Rotorua Region of the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand’s North Island, Lake Rotoma outshines its mates, Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoehu with its startling clarity. Indeed, Lake Rotoma is the cleanest and clearest lake in the entire Rotorua region. Located halfway between Rotorua and Whakatane on the coast, Lake Rotoma is a highly desirable location for a ‘bach’ (New Zealand slang for a vacation home) and the lake doesn’t disappoint with many vacation rentals along the shore.

Lake Rotoma has existed for 9500 years in the Rotoma caldera after lava flows blocked its outlet. The area still feels the effects of a restless earth, with earthquakes changing lake levels within recent history. Settled over 700 years ago by the Maori, the lake is rich in Maori history and legend. A submerged island within the lake is attributed to a powerful priest/sorcerer who cast a spell sinking the island. Seismographic activity often affects lake levels and the island has reappeared temporarily at least once in the 1900s due to earthquake. The lake is fed by two small streams and several seasonal inlets along with springs emptying into the lake. There is no surface outlet but subterranean seepage moves small amounts of water to neighboring lakes. Plans are in process to construct a drainage to Lake Rotoehu to manage high water levels in especially wet years but has not yet been completed.

Although very deep, Lake Rotoma is well supplied with small bays and coves with sand beaches and shallow sand bottoms. The southern shoreline around the town of Rotoma is lined with private homes, campgrounds and resorts but the majority of the northern half of the lake is public lands in the form of Lake Rotoma Scenic Reserve. Several public boat launch ramps and jetties are available for the visitor with his own watercraft. Although power boating, water skiing and jet skiing are popular, visitors who enjoy sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and kayaking find plenty of space to engage in their sport. There are many secluded spots among the coves for a picnic or impromptu swim. Much of the shoreline is covered in planted pines along with native bush providing plenty of cover for wildlife and birds.

Lake Rotoma is an excellent trout fishery, with rainbow and hybrid tiger trout reaching 10 pounds on occasion. Local guides are available to help those unfamiliar with the lake find the best fishing, but many anglers have great success along the shoreline. The local general store at Rotoma Village will have the locations of boat launch sites and plenty of advice for those new to this lake. The area is well-supplied with walking and mountain biking trails and golf courses are nearby. One favorite attraction very close to Rotoma is Waitangi Soda Springs. These warm mineral springs, located near the southeast shore of Lake Rotoehu, are popular with visitors and are a sacred location to local Maori tribes. The springs have recently been updated to provide changing facilities and are carefully monitored to assure cleanliness.

Vacation rentals are plentiful along the shores of Lake Rotoma; many are private rentals, although limited commercial developments exist. Property owners, local Maori and District government keep a close eye on development, preferring to maintain the private lake appeal and to protect the pristine ecology of the lake. Consequently, any lodgings found along the shore still hold that lake community feel with parks, playgrounds and groceries within a short distance and beautiful vistas and sunsets across the water. Real estate is still available, usually existing homes and cottages. Much of the shoreline is accessible only by boat and lends a feeling of solitude to days spent on the lake.

Those wish a more active vacation can always head for Rotorua, 30 miles to the west. Here, nightlife, the arts and extreme sports vie for the visitor’s attention. The surrounding area is rich in geological and Maori history. Any visitor should plan to take time to visit local points of interest such as Te Wairoa Buried Village, the wildlife reserve on Mokoia Island in Lake Rotorua and Whakarewarewa Thermal Village. All of these attractions are within an hours drive of Lake Rotoma.

Heading east, the visitor can spend the day in the quaint seaside village of Whakatane on the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Here, the visitor can spend the day at Ohope Beach, take a cruise or a flight to White Island to view an active volcano or dive among schools of fish and seabed steam vents. Not to be missed is a whale watching cruise or even a swim with dolphins.

Make Lake Rotoma your home base for a week or two of fun, fishing and frolic. Before you end your visit, you’ll be looking for real estate to make a piece of Lake Rotoma your own forever.

Things to do at Lake Rotoma

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Rotoma

  • Tiger Trout
  • Trout

Lake Rotoma Photo Gallery

Lake Rotoma Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 2,768 acres

Shoreline Length: 13 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,037 feet

Average Depth: 127 feet

Maximum Depth: 272 feet

Water Volume: 347,423 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 9 years

Drainage Area: 11 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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