Seated at the foot of Mount Tarawera, surrounded by natural forests, and steeped in history, Lake Tarawera and the surrounding area is a magical place – perfect for a gorgeous getaway.
If you just need a break from it all and don’t have time to go far but want to feel like you have, the Lake Tarawera area is your answer. Although just a 20-minute drive from the Rotorua city centre, you’ll feel a world away nearly as soon as you turn onto Tarawera Road from the bustling State Highway 30. In fact, this turn-off is only eight minutes from our airport if you’re flying into town.
In Tarawera and along the way, there’s lots to do, loads of accommodation options, and getting to the home-away-from-home of your choice is as much about the journey as the destination.
On your way through, stop to see the giant Californian redwoods of Whakarewarewa Forest and/or enjoy one or both of the eco-tours in the forest, Redwoods Treewalk or Redwoods Altitude.
From here, the gently curving, forest-lined road takes you past the most photogenic red-doored cottage on your left and the new Te Pūtake o Tawa mountain bike hub on your right. This is a great spot to hire mountain bikes from Mountain Bike Rotorua and hit the trails. You can also grab a coffee and treats from the latest location for Grounded.
The next landmark is Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake). Call in here for a picnic and to let the kids blow off some steam at the epic playground. You could even walk the 5.5km Blue Lake Track that circles the lake. Dogs on leads are welcome to join you.
Back in your waka and carrying on down Tarawera Road, you’ll come to Buried Village of Te Wairoa, an amazing place to learn more about the history of this area and how the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera devastated and re-formed this geothermal caldera.
Another great way to learn about and explore this area is with Totally Tarawera who offers guided cultural and geothermal tours on the lake. They’ll also taxi you over to Te Rātā Bay and Hot Water Beach for a natural hot pool soak, or pick you up from the end of the beautiful 15km Tarawera Trail.
Tarawera Views, Tarawera Road – 5BR, 3 bath, sleeps 10Just a few minutes past Buried Village is Tarawera Views, an architecturally designed home spread over two storeys and perched on the hillside at Mission Hill. A tranquil native bush provides the backdrop to an incredible view overlooking Lake Tarawera and its maunga (mountain), especially from the second-storey master bedroom.
Less than 2km from Buried Village, watch for signs for Tarawera Road to take a sharp right The Landing Café and tourism venture and water taxi service Totally Tarawera. This will be your first access point to the lake. Many a beautiful sunrise photo is shot looking out over the lake from the jetty.
If you skip the turn and carry on, you’re now on Spencer Road which wraps itself around the lake.
The Woolshed, Spencer Road - 2BR, sleeps 5
If you love a rural, rustic escape, about 3.4km up the road from The Landing, you’ll find two options on the same property, but with plenty of space and privacy.
The Woolshed is, you guessed it, a converted wool shed. It’s full of character with the clever repurposing of unexpected materials for both décor and utilitarian uses. The large kitchen and open-plan living spaces flow to outdoor spaces which feature a cedar hot tub and other amenities. Dogs are welcome too, and there are sheep and deer on the property that you can feed.
Jack’s Hut – 1 room, 1 bath, sleeps 2
Don’t let the word “hut” throw you, this one-room haven for two is romance personified. The 1930s shepherd’s hut is perfectly sited on a hill with breathtaking views. Get back to nature, take in the birdsong, fire up the outdoor wood-fired hot tub and enjoy the starlit skies. Toast marshmallows over the outdoor fire pit. Walk down for a swim at Stoney Point Beach or take out the kayak.
Lulu’s Pad, Spencer Road – 3BR, 2 bath, sleeps 7Just 1km up the road from The Woolshed, a newly refurbished bach-style holiday home awaits. Lulu’s Pad is cosey and relaxing, dog-friendly, and has its own outdoor cedar hot tub and lawn-to-lake access with a jetty for your boat.
Tarawera is a great place to refresh and reset, even if for just a one-nighter – although the accommodation options will have you very keen to stay longer.