Lake Okataina

Lake Okataina

Lake Okataina

Te Moana i kataina a Te Rangitakaroro

The name Okataina means "The lake of laughter", a shortened form of the original name Te Moana-i-kataina-a-Te Rangitakaroro, which means "The ocean where Te Rangitakaroro laughed". Te Rangitakaroro and his warriors were resting when one member of his group referred to the lake as an ocean and this was seen as a great joke by the rest of the group. Their laughter echoed around the lake and now remains enshrined in its name.

Lake Okataina was an important link in pre-European travel routes, when canoes were carried from Lake Tarawera to Lake Okataina. The lake and surrounding scenic reserve is remote and beautiful, with native bush down to the water's edge containing fine examples of rimu, totara, rata and kahikatea.

At a glance  
Lake size: 1080 ha
Catchment area: 6290 ha
Elevation: 311 m
Average depth: 39 m
Deepest point: 79 m
Formed: about 7000 yrs ago
Drains to Lake Tarawera via subsurface flow
Te Moana i kataina a Te Rangitakaroro









Water Quality Status

Lake Okataina’s water quality improved in 2013. 

The Action Plan was adopted in April 2013 and has three main actions, including land use change, looking into pest control options for the catchment and the investigation of the impact that the native bush understory may have on water quality

Catchment Map

Click here to view image of map.

Targets and Results

To meet community expectations for Lake Okataina's water quality nitrogen inputs need to reduce by 860 kilograms and phosphorus by 380 kilograms per year.

Water Quality target 


2017 result


2016 result










Nutrient information




Total load 

27 Tonnes

2 Tonnes


26.1 Tonnes

1.6 Tonnes

Actions and achievements

The Lake Okataina Action Plan was adopted by the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Strategy Group in April 2013.

Action Target Achieved to date Status
Land use and land management change

860kg N

380kg P

671 kg

N 37 kg P

A recent voluntary land-use change is estimated to have met 78% of the target for nitrogen and 10% of the target for phosphorus.
Looking into pest control options in the catchment     Effectiveness of this intervention is being measured.
Investigate and measure the impacts of native bush understory     Work is being led by the Chair in Lakes Management and Restoration at University of Waikato.  This project has a three year time frame.

More information about the actions taken for Lake Okataina see the Background information document.

Action Plan

Lake Action Plans direct what steps need to be taken to improve lake water quality to meet communitys' expectations.

Read Lake Okataina Action Plan