The magnificent Blue and Green Lakes are also known by their Māori names of Lake Tikitapu and Lake Rotokakahi and are a big drawcard for locals and visitors to Rotorua alike.
The lakes are known for their colour difference. The best advantage point to view the difference is from the lookout that sits above the two lakes on Tarawera Road. From the lookout, you can see a distinct difference in the intensive colouring between the two lakes. The green lake has a deep emerald green colour, whereas the blue in the blue lake colour is a result of the volcanic rock composition and pumice on the lake bed. The green lake colouring stands out due to the shallower sandy nature of the lakebed.
Our visit to the lakes coincided with Easter weekend, just a few short days since Cyclone Cook had been through the area. The water levels all around the central North Island were higher than normal, but people were drawn to the Blue and Green Lakes because Lake Rotorua boardwalk was cordoned off, due to the flooding and high water level.
Typically, people head out to the two lakes for a range of activities from walking to swimming, water skiing, biking, fishing and running. Most of these occur at the Blue Lake, as the Green Lake is sacred to Maori, with Motutawa Island in the middle of the lake being a burial ground of many Maori ancestors. Local iwi (Māori tribe) owns the lake, so no swimming, fishing or boating is allowed on the lake.
The walk around the Blue Lake is about 5 kilometres and goes through part the Whakarewarewa Forest. On the day of our visit, many runners were taking advantage of the track to get their daily exercise.
At the Green Lake, there are two short walks which can give great views of the lake. These trails can be accessed from Green Lake Road (which is about 15 minutes’ drive from Tarawera Road) through the forest to a picnic area. However, on the day we went to Green Lake Road it was closed due to the cyclone, but it appears to be a rough road usually and caution would be recommended on this trip.
After not being able to access Green Lake Road, we made our way back to Tarawera Road to the Green Lake waterfront where a late lunch was the order of the day at The Landings Café, which has stunning views of the lake and the distinguished Mt Tarawera. On the day we were there, the rain was drizzly, yet we were still able to sit out on the covered deck, while we enjoyed a very creamy and delicious seafood chowder and two melt-in-the-mouth spring rolls. The food and the service were top-notch, which made us happy and relaxed to stay while taking in the view of the heavenly lake and mountains.
When we did head away, we headed back along Tarawera Road to the Blue Lake, stopping once again for a short walk and some photos. But the sun was quickly disappearing, and the mist was starting to descend down over the mountains, giving it a special spiritual feeling. But it was time to head back to Rotorua and our accommodation after a great day out exploring the magnificent Blue (Lake Tikitapu) and Green (Lake Rotokakahi) Lakes.
For more photographs on the Blue and Green Lakes, go here