Lake Rerewhakaaitu

Lake Rerewhakaaitu

Lake Rerewhakaaitu

Rerewhakaaitu means the lake of "wandering spirits." The land surrounding this lake, rich with the volcanic soils from the Tarawera eruption, was the last of the developed farming areas of the Rotorua District.

Lake Rerewhakaaitu lies at the base of the southern slopes of Mount Tarawera. It is a relatively shallow lake, with unusual catchment groundwater drainage. Most of the farmland groundwater does not enter the lake but drains into other catchments. The area around the lake is of special wildlife interest, with the largest breeding population of banded dotterel in the Rotorua district.

At a glance  
Lake size: 530 ha
Catchment area:  5290 ha
Elevation: 435 m
Average depth: 7 m
Deepest point: 15 m
Formed: 700 years ago
Groundwater links with Lake Rotomahana plus some overflow to the Mangaharakeke Stream and Rangitaiki River during high lakes levels.  









Water Quality Status

Lake Rerewhakaaitu was below its water quality target in 2015. 

As at June 2016, farmers in the Lake Rerewhakaaitu catchment and other farmers in the outer catchment of Lake Tarawera are currently working towards updating their Nutrient Management Plans to bring them in line with industry best practice. This is a voluntary effort from the farmers, who have established a successful community group to work together on water quality issues. The Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme provide financial and staff support to the community group to assist in making the effort successful.  

Catchment Map

Click here for image of map.

Targets and Results

To meet community expectations for Lake Rerewhaaitu nitrogen inputs need to reduce by 3.1 tonnes and phosphorus by 125 kilograms per year.

Water Quality target 


2017 result


2016 result









Nutrient information




Total load 

10.7 tonnes 

4.3 tonnes


7.6 tonnes

4.2 tonnes

Action and achievements

In 2009 the Regional Council agreed to support the Rerewhakaaitu farmers in developing their own catchment plan to improve Lake Rerewhakaaitu's water quality.  As such an Action Plan has not been developed for the lake.

The primary focus of the catchment plan is to prepare and implement a nutrient management plan for each farm.  Key actions for managing land uses include:

  • Measure current nutrient levels
  • Develop a nutrient budget
  • Develop individual nutrient management plans to identify where reductions could be met
  • Implement agreed mitigations
  • Independent mitigation auditing

Farmers have committed to undertake all actions and auditing by 2015.  For more information on the actions taken by the Rerewhakaaitu farmers go to the Lake Rerewhakaaitu case studies.

Since 2009 nutrient management science and practice has made significant headway. The Lake Rerewhakaaitu farmer group wants to make sure they maintain abreast of this and as such have committed to updating their Nutrient Management Plans to industry best practice while expanding their membership to other farmers in the Lake Tarawera Outer Catchments. As at June 2016 the group are currently working through a process for updating their Nutrient Management Plans and it is expected this will roll out over the next 18 months to 2 years.