Cammi Nealy

Written by Cammi Nealy

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


Lake Rotorua is a remarkable destination that captivates visitors with its stunning beauty and geothermal wonders. This iconic lake, located in the North Island of New Zealand, is more than just a picturesque spot—it holds a treasure trove of surprising facts that will leave you in awe. From its unique geological features to its rich Maori history, Lake Rotorua offers a truly immersive experience for nature lovers, adventure enthusiasts, and history buffs alike. In this article, we will unveil eight fascinating and unexpected facts about Lake Rotorua that will deepen your appreciation for this extraordinary natural wonder. So, get ready to delve into the mysteries and marvels of Lake Rotorua as we explore its intriguing secrets!

Key Takeaways:

  • Lake Rotorua is a magical place with color-changing waters, natural hot springs, and a rich Maori heritage. It’s like a natural spa and cultural treasure all in one!
  • Visitors to Lake Rotorua can experience thrilling adventures like jet boating and zorbing, while also marveling at the diverse aquatic life and hidden thermal wonderlands beneath the surface.
Table of Contents

The Mysterious Color-Changing Waters

One of the most fascinating aspects of Lake Rotorua is its unique ability to change colors. This mesmerizing phenomenon is caused by the presence of geothermal activity beneath the lake’s surface. The waters of Lake Rotorua can change from vibrant blues and greens to milky whites and even shades of orange. It’s a natural wonder that leaves visitors in awe and wondering about the magic behind this color-changing spectacle.

The Natural Spa at Lake Rotorua

Another surprising fact about Lake Rotorua is that it is home to natural geothermal hot springs and mud pools. These hot springs offer a therapeutic experience like no other. Many visitors flock to Lake Rotorua to soak in the warm mineral-rich waters, believed to have healing properties for various ailments. It’s the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate, surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the lake and its surroundings.

The Home of the Astounding Pink and White Terraces

Did you know that Lake Rotorua was once home to the world-famous Pink and White Terraces? These natural wonders were considered the eighth wonder of the world and drew visitors from all over the globe. Unfortunately, they were destroyed in the eruption of Mount Tarawera in However, there are ongoing efforts to uncover and restore these magnificent formations, which once adorned the shores of Lake Rotorua.

The Cultural Significance of Lake Rotorua

Lake Rotorua holds immense cultural significance for the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand. It is considered a taonga (treasure) and is deeply woven into their ancient legends and traditions. The lake is often used for traditional ceremonies, such as waka (canoe) regattas and cultural performances. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about the rich Maori heritage and experience the vibrant traditions associated with Lake Rotorua.

The Unique Aquatic Life of Lake Rotorua

Despite being a geothermal lake with constantly changing temperatures and volcanic activity, Lake Rotorua is home to a diverse range of aquatic life. The lake supports various fish species, including trout and smelt, making it a popular fishing destination. It’s fascinating to see how these species have adapted to the ever-changing conditions of the lake, thriving in an environment that is both challenging and extraordinary.

The Thermal Wonderlands Beneath Lake Rotorua

Beneath the surface of Lake Rotorua lies a hidden world of thermal wonderlands. The lake sits on top of a geothermal hotspot, which fuels underground geysers, hot springs, and mud pools. Visitors can explore these captivating geothermal features by taking a boat tour or even diving into the underwater geothermal vents. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the power and beauty of Mother Nature at its best.

The Sulphur-Scented Air Surrounding Lake Rotorua

One cannot visit Lake Rotorua without noticing the distinctive smell of sulphur that permeates the air. This scent is a result of the geothermal activity and the presence of sulphur in the area. While some may find the smell overwhelming at first, it soon becomes a part of the unique sensory experience of Lake Rotorua. It serves as a constant reminder of the powerful forces at work beneath the surface of the lake.

The Adventure Activities around Lake Rotorua

Beyond its natural wonders, Lake Rotorua is also a hub for adventure activities. Visitors can indulge in thrilling experiences such as jet boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, and even zorbing (rolling downhill in a giant inflatable ball). The lake and its surrounding landscape provide the perfect playground for adrenaline junkies and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s an exciting and exhilarating way to explore the beauty and excitement that Lake Rotorua has to offer.


Lake Rotorua is truly a remarkable natural wonder, brimming with surprises and unique features. From its geothermal activity to its cultural significance, this iconic New Zealand lake offers a wealth of fascinating facts. Visitors are not only treated to stunning scenery but also get to explore the rich Maori history and traditions that are intertwined with the lake. With its abundance of wildlife and recreational activities, Lake Rotorua is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.


1. How deep is Lake Rotorua?

Lake Rotorua has an average depth of 10 meters (33 feet), with some areas reaching depths of up to 15 meters (49 feet).

2. What causes the geothermal activity in Lake Rotorua?

The geothermal activity in Lake Rotorua is primarily caused by the volcanic activity in the region. The lake sits within the Taupo Volcanic Zone, which is known for its geothermal hotspots and active geysers.

3. Can you swim in Lake Rotorua?

Yes, swimming is allowed in Lake Rotorua. The lake’s warm waters make it an inviting spot for a refreshing dip, and there are designated swimming areas for visitors to enjoy.

4. Are there any fish species unique to Lake Rotorua?

Yes, Lake Rotorua is home to several unique fish species, including the famous Rainbow Trout, which was introduced to the lake in the late 1800s. The lake also supports a thriving population of Brown Trout.

5. Can you go fishing in Lake Rotorua?

Absolutely! Lake Rotorua is a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts. The lake offers excellent trout fishing opportunities, and there are local guides available to help visitors make the most of their fishing experience.

6. Is Lake Rotorua a sacred site?

Yes, Lake Rotorua holds immense cultural significance for the local Maori community. It is considered a sacred site and plays a vital role in Maori legends, traditions, and spiritual beliefs.

7. Can you visit the geothermal hot pools near Lake Rotorua?

Yes, visitors can explore the geothermal hot pools and geysers in the surrounding areas of Lake Rotorua. There are guided tours available, offering a chance to witness the breathtaking displays of boiling mud pools and erupting geysers.

8. What are some popular activities to do in Lake Rotorua?

In addition to fishing and swimming, there are several popular activities to enjoy in Lake Rotorua. These include boating, kayaking, jet skiing, and even taking a relaxing cruise to admire the scenic beauty of the lake.

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