Rotorua Eastern Lakes
Walking/ Hiking/ Trail Running
Rotorua’s Redwoods are home to large network of trails suited to off-road running and walking which take users through a diverse range of native plants and exotic trees, and provide spectacular views of the city, lakes and surrounding countryside. There are six sign posted walking tracks starting from The Redwoods Gift Shop and Visitor Centre on Long Mile Rd that cater for beginners and leisure walkers through to hikers looking for an extra challenge. As these walks are designed as circuits follow the colour coded arrows in the direction they are pointing. If you prefer to explore in your own way, rather than keeping to sign posted tracks, be sure to give yourself plenty of time as the forest is a maze of roads, old logging tracks, various mountain bike tracks, horse trails and ‘locals’ short cuts. Toilets and carparking are provided at the visitor centre.
Redwood Memorial Grove track
On this popular 2km track starting at the visitor centre you can meander through the breathtaking Californian Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) which were planted in 1901. These towering trees stand at approximately 67 metres tall and create a wonderful shelter, along with the under planted European Larch, for a diverse range of native plants and birds. Another feature of this track is the board walk, which takes you across the old thermal pond, home to a variety of exotic aquatic plant life.
This track 3.4km track takes you on an extension of the Redwood Track through the breathtaking Redwoods into a magnificent stand of Douglas fir. Discover the famous New Zealand Silver fern and the giant mamaku ferns. Join the nature trail where many of the trees and plants are identified along the way.
Quarry lookout track
The Quarry Lookout Track is a variation on the Waitawa walk and ventures a bit further into the forest with a 4.8km loop. A stroll through the Redwoods leads you to a short climb through mature Douglas fir, European Larch, Walnut and various species of Eucalypts. The lookout point above the old rhyolite quarry gives a wonderful view over the Redwood Grove, out to Lake Rotorua and the main city centre. Once you have descended the steps into the Quarry basin you can follow Quarry Rd back down to the Redwoods car park to shorten the walk to about one hour or keep following the green arrows to continue for the full walk.
Tokorangi Pa track
The Tokorangi Pa Track takes you through the tranquil Redwoods before a steady climb eastward to 500 metres above sea level. This is a very beautiful 11.5km walk with views of Mt Ngongotaha, Rotorua City, the lake, airport and countryside. The trip through Douglas fir, European Larch, Walnut and various Eucalypts leads to the site of an ancient Maori pa (fortified village). The track then continues down to the valley floor along ‘The Wash’. Watch for bikes on the Water Reservoir and Lynmore Link sections as these are dual-use tracks. ‘Cardiac Steps’ brings you back up past the wastewater treatment ponds to return via Katore and Nursery Roads
Setting off towards the western side of Whakarewarewa, this track goes over quite varied terrain and takes in different aspects of the forest in its 7.5km length. Once through the Redwood Grove you will take a short sealed road section up Nursery Hill before heading back into the forest.
A full day’s walk on both forestry roads and tracks, the 34km Whakarewarewa circuit gives you the opportunity to discover all the beauty and wonders of the Whakarewarewa Forest. See spectacular panoramic views of Rotorua and walk the shores of the beautiful lakes Tikitapu and Rotokakahi.
Tikitapu (Blue Lake)
Tikitapu/Blue Lake Walk
Going clockwise, the Titkitapu Walk winds around the lake through bush, exotic and native trees, and beach for a 5.5km loop. It is an easy gradient with a short staircase near the lookout point which provides views over both lakes Tikitapu and Rotokakahi.
Rotokakahi/Green Lake Walk
There are two short tracks, covering 1.5km, which allow remarkable views of this sacred lake and Motutawa Island, the larger of the two islands in the lake. Access to the lake is via SH2 10km south of Rotorua. Turn left off the main highway onto Waipa South Rd and directly into Green Lake Rd. A short drive into the forest will bring you to the car park.
Lake Okataina has a number of short and longer tracks, all of which are accessed off Okataina Rd from SH30 at Ruato Bay.
Te Auheke Track
Te Auheke Track is also known as the Cascades Track. The circular track passes a sheer cliff face which is covered by moss and ferns by day and thousands of glow worms at night. Cascade Falls are approximately 10 m high with water falling over and around many rock protusions, creating a picturesque scene. Allow 40 minutes each way at a moderate walking pace.
This track is also known as the Twin Lakes Track. It commences immediately opposite the side road to the Outdoor Education Centre, on Okataina Road and takes around 50 min to complete at moderate walking pace. It passes 100 m above the twin volcanic crater lakes of Rotongata and Rotoatua, which were formed about 3500 years ago. They support a variety of interesting birdlife from harrier hawks to scaup and dabchicks.
Kepa Track commences off Okataina Road, 100m south of the Outdoor Education Centre. This short track takes walkers through clearings where evidence of past logging activity remains in the form of old log-loading skids. The track meets up with the Anaha Track after about 10 minutes at a moderate walking pace.
The Anaha Track startss approximately 100m south of the Outdoor Education Centre, off Okataina Road and finishes 1.2 km further down the road. The track passes through old logging sites where the log-loading ramps or skids are still apparent. Walkers should allow one hour for the one way journey.
Starting 50m down the side road leading to the Education Centre, Tarawhai Track is a loop which passes some fine examples of rimu, pukatea and tawa, with a wide variety of other native plants present. This makes for an interesting and informative 50 minute interpretation walk. A 5m by 5m fenced-off area has been created beside the southern end of this track to illustrate the effects of introduced browsers (notably, wallabies) on the native vegetation. There are toilets next to the carpark at Okataina Outdoor Education Centre. There are also toilets, a boat ramp, swimming areas, historic sites and interpretation panels at the carpark next to the Okataina Lodge.
Lake Okareka is one of the smaller lakes in the Rotorua district and is situated in a picturesque setting of hills, bush, farmland and a lakeside settlement. The lake is part of an ancient volcanic caldera and has no surface outlet. As the water level would rise and fall dramatically depending on rainfall, an artificial outlet was creayed in 1965 with the lake now draining into Lake Tarawera through a pipeline.
The Okareka walkway was created in 2002. The 5.5km return walkway starts at the Acacia Road lakeside reserve where a parking area is provided. The first part of the walkway starts with a re-vegetated area of native trees and shrubs in covered bush before you head along the boardwalk and make your way across the wetland area. This allows good viewing of water birds that have made this lake their home due to the shallow lake margins. The rest of the walkway is of an easy grade, with the last few hundred metre to the outlet being of moderate grade. Allow 1.5-2 hours to complete the return trip.
- Wheelchair access to Silver Beach
- Car park at Acacia Road
- Eco toilets located at the picnic area near the end of the walkway
- No dogs permitted
- No bikes permitted
- No bins provided on the walkway, please take your rubbish with you
- No camping or fires permitted
Lake Okareka Scenic Reserve (Boyes Beach to Lake Okareka DOC campsite)
Boyes Beach, located 15 minutes from Rotorua, is one of the largest beaches on Lake Okareka and is particularly popular during the summer months for activities such as swimming, fishing, and picknicking. A new walkway connects Boyes Beach to the Lake Okareka Campsite where there are 12 unpowered campsites. The trail passes two local jumping rocks and starts in the front of the Waka Ama Club at the far end of Boyes Beach. The walkway is part boardwalk and part natural trail. Allow up to 25 minutes one way.
The 15km Tarawera Trail begins at Te Wairoa car park, off Tarawera Road, and offers expansive views of beautiful Lake Tarawera. Follow the lake side trail through first Katukutuku Bay and then after 5km to Hawaiki Bay where there is lake access and toilet facilities. The track continues with intermittent climbs, through lakeside bushland into Te Hinau Bay before passing over Twin Streams cold springs. After an uphill climb to reach the Rotomahana lookout point, descend into Te Rata Bay to soak away the strains of the 5-6hour walk at Hot Water Beach, but be careful - localised patches of sand are very hot. Return is by retracing the track to Te Wairoa, or by pre-booked water taxi.