The name Okataina means "The lake of laughter", a shortened form of the original name Te Moana-i-kataina-a-Te Rangitakaroro, which means "The ocean where Te Rangitakaroro laughed". Te Rangitakaroro and his warriors were resting when one member of his group referred to the lake as an ocean and this was seen as a great joke by the rest of the group. Their laughter echoed around the lake and now remains enshrined in its name.

Lake Okataina was an important link in pre-European travel routes, when canoes were carried from Lake Tarawera to Lake Okataina. The lake and surrounding scenic reserve is remote and beautiful, with native bush down to the water's edge containing fine examples of rimu, totara, rata and kahikatea.

 

Fishing

This lake has limited spawning grounds and the balance of trout is maintained by an annual liberation. An abundance of food, smelt, koura (crayfish), snails and bullies enables trout to reach trophy size in a short time.

Follow the Rotorua-Whakatane highway (SH30) for 24km to Ruato Bay on Lake Rotoiti, then turn right and drive through the beautiful Okataina Scenic Drive.

A boat is necessary for fishing, although during the winter spawning runs wonderful fly fishing is available along the beach in front of Okataina Lodge.

 

 

Walking Tracks

 

Rongomai Track

A 1.7km (40 minutes) section of the Western Okataina Walkway between Patotara and the Outdoor Education Centre.

 

 

Ngahopua Track

The 2km, 50-minute, circuit starts immediately opposite the side road to the Outdoor Education Centre, on Okataina Rd.

The track takes you 100 m above the twin volcanic crater lakes of Rotongata and Rotoatua, which formed about 3500 years ago. They support a variety of interesting birdlife, including scaup and dabchicks.

Starts about 100 m south of the Outdoor Education Centre, off Okataina Rd and finishes 1.2km further down the road. The track, named after Anaha Te Rāhui (a master carver in the Rotorua District), passes through old logging sites.

 

 

Kepa Track

A 425m, 10 minutes, leisurely walking trail. Starts off Okataina Rd, 100m south of the Outdoor Education Centre. This track was named after Kepa Ehau, who was largely responsible for the scenic reserve status of the area. It takes walkers through clearings where evidence of past logging activity remains. The track finishes at Okataina Rd, approximately 500 m south of the starting point.

 

 

Te Auheke Track (Cascades Track)

The 1.5km, 40-minute circuit  starts at the back of the field behind the Outdoor Education Centre. The track passes a sheer cliff face that is covered with moss and ferns. At night, thousands of glow worms can be seen. The picturesque Cascade Falls (around 10 m high) pour water over and around many rock protrusions and inspired the track’s name (Te Auheke means ‘tumbling water’).

 

 

Tarawhai Track

The 1.3km, 50-minute circuit starts 50 m down the side road leading to the Outdoor Education Centre.

A wide variety of native trees, including rimu, pukatea and tawa, line this nature trail. Many are identified with name plates, making for an interesting and informative walk. A 5-m2 fenced-off area beside the southern end of this track illustrates the effects of introduced browsing animals (notably wallabies) on the native vegetation.

 

 

Waipungapunga Track

This easy 20 minute bush track proves an alternative entry/exit point to the Western Okataina Walkway.

 

 

Western Okataina Walkway

The 22.5km, 7 hour , Western Okataina Walkway can be walked in its entirety in either direction from Ngāpuka Bay (SH 30, 21 km from Rotorua) or from Millar Rd (11 km from Rotorua).

 

 

Eastern Okataina Walkway

Lake Okataina car park (Tauranganui Bay) to Humphries Bay (Lake Tarawera)
Starting from the Okataina car park, 10.5km, 3 hours one way track heads south, passing Te Koutū Point and a large natural amphitheatre formed by volcanic rock cliffs, named the Soundshell.

The track continues to meander through native bush, offering splendid lake views. There are several options to branch off the track and head down to the lake at Te Koutū, Kaiwaka Bay and Ōtangimoana Bay. From Ōtangimoana Bay, the track climbs away from Okataina overland and then descends into Humphries Bay on Lake Tarawera.