The 1886 eruption, which killed 153 people and raised the lake surface by 12 metres, shaped the Tarawera landscape. The lake drains eastward through the Tarawera River, over spectacular falls.
The reserve contains walking tracks and many recreational and cultural sites, including those at Tarawera Landing, The Orchard, Humphries Bay and Hot Water Beach.
The Lake Tarawera Scenic Reserve has a variety of access points where a range of activities may be enjoyed.
Tarawera Landing and The Orchard
Tarawera Landing is 8 km from Rotorua via Tarawera Road, off Te Ngae Road. The Landing and Boat Shed Bay are the departure points for scenic boat tours. There is a café beside the carpark. Five minutes walk from the Landing, at Tarawera Orchard, are traditional Maori paintings on a rock face. Please do not disturb this archaeological site.
Tarawera Falls, Lake Tarawera Scenic
At the northern end of Lake Tarawera, Humphries Bay is a pleasant picnic and camping spot accessible by boat or along the Northern Tarawera Track, a moderate tramping track from the Tarawera Outlet.
Hot Water Beach
Natural hot springs under the sand provide a relaxing, warm swim. Hot Water Beach, on the southern arm of Lake Tarawera, is accessible by boat. Caution: Localised patches of sand are very hot.
Picnic areas are numerous. They include a beautiful spot beside the Tarawera River, 100 metres back along Waterfall Road from the carpark. Camping is permitted only at Tarawera Outlet and Hot Water Beach and at a small, informal campsite at Humphries Bay, where camping is restricted to one night and is only for visitors arriving on foot or by kayak.
Public jetties are at Tarawera Landing, Tarawera Outlet, Boatshed Bay and Rāpatu Bay.Boat ramps are at Tarawera Landing, Boatshed Bay, Stony Point and a beach boat ramp at Tarawera Outlet.Public toilets are provided at most boating access points and camping areas, and at the Waterfall Road carpark.
Access to Tarawera Outlet is from Kawerau township (off SH 30 between Rotorua and Whakatane) via private forestry roads which require permits. The forest gate is closed during the hours of darkness. The forest road may be closed in summer when fire risk is high.
Permits cost $5 and must be collected on the day of entering the forest roads from:
Kawerau Information Centre
Plunket St, Kawerau
+64 7 323 6300
Open daily 9am - 4pm (8am - 6pm from December 15 to January 29)
Also available from the Kawarau Online website.
Lake Tarawera transport options
There are a number of concessionaires that run either boat or helicopter transport around the Rotorua Lakes area, creating a variety of options for connecting trails or getting to/from campsites. View guides and tourism providers for Lake Tarawera.
Dogs, horses, vehicles (including bikes and motorbikes), fires, removal of plants or animals, camping outside designated areas and hunting without a permit are not permitted. Campers are advised to use gas cookers.
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