Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) - the best things to see and do

Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) only 10 minutes from the Rotorua town centre is a beautiful clear lake popular for family picnics and water sports year round.

Lake Tikitapu, more commonly known as the Blue Lake, is the smallest of four lakes lying between Lake Rotorua and Lake Tarawera in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand.  Along with its neighbouring lakes, Lake Tikitapu lies within a volcanic caldera formed within the last 300,000 years.

Lake Tikitapu - what it means

The Maori name of the lake ‘Tikitapu’ is derived from a story surrounding a scared (tapu) necklace (tiki). It is said that long ago, a daughter of a highborn chief swam in the lake and lost her treasured Tiki (greenstone neck ornament looped through flax cord).  Frenzied searching ensued after the loss of this hallowed possession, the sacred tiki of her tribe. To this day, the waters of Tikitapu still hide the tapu – scared tiki – necklace that was lost.

Today, Lake Tikitapu is commonly referred to as Blue Lake due to the blue colour of the lake which can be attributed to rhyolite and pumice on the lake bed. Its clear waters are popular with water skiers, swimmers and boaties. An easy walking track circles the lake taking in beautiful beaches, native bush and the exotic conifers of Whakarewarewa Forest. The beaches and surrounding grassed areas at the reserve are popular for picnics and there are good views over the Blue Lake and the nearby sacred Green Lake (Rotokakahi) from the surrounding walking tracks.

In summer, the lake is used for recreational purposes, with many sports events being held such as water skiing and triathlons. Like many of the lakes in the Rotorua district, it is also used for trout fishing.

The best things to see and do

There are several ways to explore the lake and take in its beauty. Just 9 km southeast of Rotorua, Lake Tikitapu is an easy drive from the town centre.  Running, walking and swimming are popular ways to explore the lake area.  It’s also possible to rent mountain bikes suitable for traversing to and from the lake.  Additionally, the Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday Park offers kayak hire on request. You can also tour Lake Tikitapu and its neighbouring waterways via stand up paddle board with Rotorua Paddle Tours. 

For the ultimate Blue Lake experience, you should consider exploring the lake with Rotorua Duck Tours on board their authentic, amphibious WWII Landing Craft to discover historic sights, Maori culture, geothermal wonders, pristine lakes, and the natural beauty of the spectacular Rotorua lakes district.

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