One of the largest lakes in New Zealand, the picturesque Lake Tarawera (meaning ‘burnt spear’), is a firm favourite with boaties, and famous for the size and condition of its rainbow trout.
The lake features natural geothermal springs and lakeside hot pools, walking trails and a host of holiday home accommodation options.
The Tarawera Landing area has a café, public toilets and a boat ramp and jetty.
The area was vastly altered by the volcanic eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886. Prior to the eruption, it was home to many small Māori villages and missionary settlements.
The area became the birthplace of New Zealand tourism. Visitors would travel through Tarawera on their way to visit the Pink and White Terraces on the neighbouring Lake Rotomahana. These geothermal pools, made from silica deposit formations, were labelled as the 8th Natural Wonder of the World, and news of this ‘geothermal wonderland’ spread to the far away Victorian world.
Tarawera villagers would host these visitors in the missionary accommodation houses, and entertain them with Māori cultural performances and traditionally cooked hangi meals, starting the tradition of hosting and guiding that Rotorua is still known for today.
The eruption of Mount Tarawera completely devastated the area, burying the villages and the Pink and White Terraces under mud and ash. Many of the surviving visitors relocated to nearby Whakarewarewa Village, and the tradition of guiding in the valley continues today. The stories of the Pink and White Terraces and the Tarawera eruption are told at Te Wairoa Buried Village
, where remains of the original village have been excavated.
Lake Tarawera Accommodation & Camping
The area around Lake Tarawera offers a variety of accommodation options, including holiday homes
with beautiful lake views, and Solitaire Lodge
Natural hot springs along the lake's edge give Hot Water Beach in Te Rātā Bay its name. The campsite here has a cooking shelter and toilets. Bookings are required prior to arrival. The campsite is accessed either on foot via the Tarawera Trail or by boat.
There are also two glamping sites at Hot Water Beach run by Totally Tarawera
Lake Tarawera Walking Trails
The 16km Tarawera Trail
travels around the lake's edge from the Landing to Hot Water Beach in Te Rātā Bay, offering breath-taking views of the lake and Mount Tarawera. A challenging day walk, this is best done in one direction, with a water taxi service to return. This must be booked in advance with Totally Tarawera
On the north side of the lake, a short walking track takes you to the spectacular Tarawera Falls, accessed from Kawerau by private road. Permits are required and can be purchased at the Kawerau i-SITE
Another boat-accessed walking track between Humphries Bay and the Tarawera Outlet connects to the Eastern Okataina Track from Humphries Bay, and the beautiful Tarawera Falls Track from the Outlet.