Located in the Bay of Plenty region
There is a boat ramp near a carpark at the end of the road. The ramp is difficult to launch from and requires a high skill level.
Leave Rotorua via SH30. Take Lake Ōkataina Rd (on your right) roughly 30 minutes after leaving Rotorua CBD.
Dogs, horses, vehicles (including bicycles and motorbikes), fires, removal of plants or animals, and hunting without a permit are not permitted in the reserve.
Lake Ōkataina supports the native common smelt, common bully, banded kōkopu and kōaro. These species are normally migratory and therefore require access to the sea to complete their life cycle. However, in the Rotorua Lakes the populations have become landlocked with no access to the sea.
Introduced species to Lake Ōkataina include trout and morihana. The common smelt was introduced into the lake in the early 19th century. There are also koura and freshwater mussels in the lake.
In Lake Ōkataina, vegetation around the lake is intact and the water clarity is excellent, however the native fish suffer from predation and competition by the introduced fish.
The name Ōkataina means the lake of laughter, a shorted form of Te Moana-i-Kaitaina-a-Te Rangitakaroro, which means "The ocean where Te Rangitakarora laughed".
Ngāti Tarāwhai are the principle iwi of Ōkataina with their main pā on Te Koutu Pennisula. The area is steeped with fascinating cultural history.
Fluctuating lake levels were the main reasons for Ngāti Tarāwhai moving away from the area before 1900. In 1921 Ngāti Tarāwhai gifted the shores of Lake Ōkataina to the crown to be set aside as a reserve. As a condition of this endowment, the reserve is now administered by the Lake Ōkataina Scenic Reserve Board which comprises of members of Ngāti Tarāwhai. It is managed by DOC.