Lake Tarawera

Lake Tarawera

Lake Tarawera

Lake Tarawera, meaning 'Burnt Spear' is one of the largest lakes in New Zealand. The lake was home to many small Maori villages and mission settlements,until the Tarawera eruption in 1886. Legend has it that a "waka wairua" (phantom canoe) appeared on the lake as a portent of death a few days prior to the eruption.

Lake Tarawera is a picturesque lake, famous for the size and condition of its rainbow trout. Several lakes in the area drain into it directly or via groundwater, along with geothermal springs on the southern and northern shores. Lake Tarawera is a deep lake; any water flowing in to it stays there for around 10 years.

At a glance  
Lake size: 4130 ha
Catchment area: 14520 ha
Elevation: 298 m
Average depth: 50 m
Deepest point 87.5 m
Formed: 5000 years ago
Surface outflow via the Tarawera river  








Water Quality Status

Water quality in Lake Tarawera is good.

The long-term trend shows that Lake Tarawera water quality is declining and it does not meeting the communities expectations.

An Action Plan is in development.  This will identify what interventions are required for Lake Tarawera to meet the water quality target


Catchment Map

Click here to view image of map


Target and Results

To meet community expectations Lake Tarawera needs a reduction of 12 tonnes of nitrogen and 1.2 tonnes of phosphorus.

Water Quality target 


2017 result


2016 result







Nutrient information

  Nitrogen Phosphorus

Total load

67.7 Tonnes

5.5 Tonnes


55.7 Tonnes

4.3 Tonnes


* Background sources include bare ground, native forest, rainfall, recreation and grasses.


Research Reports

Author/s Report Overview View
ERI and University of Waikato Modelling the impact of sewage reticulation on water quality of Lake Tarawera Report 1.7MB
Louise Feathers Planning On-Site Wastewater Capability at Lake Tarawera Report 6.0MB






Tarawera Lakes Restoration Plan

Read a copy of the final Tarawera Lakes Restoration Plan (1.43MB, pdf).


Groundwater in the greater Lake Tarawera catchment: Notes and Summary of GNS Science Reports

Summary of feedback

Summary of feedback on Draft Tarawera Lakes Restoration Plan

Lake Tarawera Restoration Group

Working Party Objectives:

1.  Provide comment on the draft Tarawera Restoration Plan to Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes
     Strategy Party,
2.  Lead discussion on water quality action and current septic tanks, including
     representing community views, receiving advice on the options and advising the
     Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme on their preferences and supporting actions
     from Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Rotorua Lakes Council and Te Arawa Lakes
     Trust to get funding support for the preferred option; and
3.  Review the Restoration Plan in 12 months’ time as groundwater information
      becomes available and provides better information on specific sources of nutrients to
      the lake.
Date                          Agenda Meeting Report Minutes Author
4th August 2015   Summary of feedback for Tarawera Lakes Restoration Plan Minutes K. Parcell
18 March 2015 Agenda Wastewater Disposal Minutes T. Long
    Wastewater Scheme Briefing   A. Bell
18 February 2015  Agenda Tarawera Action Plan Presentation Minutes A. Bruere/ K. Parcell