Lake Tarawera, meaning 'burnt spear', is one of the largest lakes in the country and was home to many small Māori villages until the Tarawera eruption in 1886. It’s understood a ‘waka wairua’ (phantom canoe) appeared on the lake as an ominous sign of death a few days before the eruption.
With lots of camping spots, walking tracks (including the Tarawera Falls Walking Track, which is recognised as one of New Zealand's best short walks) and stunning scenery, Lake Tarawera is an idyllic holiday destination, which is also famous for the size of its rainbow trout. Anglers from all over the world hit the lake each year (between 1 October and 30 June, when the lake is open for both fly fishing and trolling) in search of a trophy fish.
Even though it’s smaller than Lake Rotorua by surface area, Lake Tarawera is actually larger by water volume. It’s an incredibly deep lake, with several other lakes in the area draining into it directly.
Unfortunately, the lake’s water quality is declining and isn’t meeting the community’s expectations, so an action plan is currently in development to identify what’s needed to restore our beautiful lake to full health and ensure future generations are able to enjoy it.