Lake Rotokare stands as a stunning scenic reserve in the heart of Taranaki. The lake is home to much different native birdlife. It is also one of the few places that kiwi live in Taranaki.
The lake itself is a community-led conservation project that aims to bring about restoration, protection, and enhancement of the local ecosystem. Native, and often endangered birds, inhabit the park. Protected from pests such as possums and ferrets (not to mention cats and dogs) by a massive barrier fence that travels the perimeter of the park.
Rotokare is a stunning location just outside of Eltham. It is not only an area with a wide variety of fauna, but there is a lot of flora too. The lake is home to much water life and is open to boating and water sports from the 1st of December until April every year. The lake is closed for the rest of the year for conservation purposes and due to harmful bacteria in other periods of the year.
There is a lot of wildlife within the protected borders of Lake Rotokare. From kiwi to native eels and more, Rotokare is one of the best places in the country to see native New Zealand wildlife.
There is a lot to do at Rotokare as long as you don’t mind spending some time outdoors. The lake area around the carpark is beautiful by itself and makes for a great picnic location. There are benches and tables located on the edge of the lake (right next to the carpark). This means it’s easy to take some food and enjoy it with a fantastic view.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to be more active on your visit then you are also in luck! Rotokare has some stunning walks of varying lengths and difficulties. The two primary tracks are the lake walkway and the ridge walkway. Both of which provide totally different but equally interesting experiences.
The lake walkway is the easier of the two and is also shorter. The walk is estimated to take between one and a half and two hours and is quite flat. The walk has no big hills and as such, it is possible for people of most fitness levels. This walk sticks closer to the lake and has some marshland boardwalks through the wetlands. Most of the images in this post were taken on this walk.
There is a viewing platform that floats on the lake that is accessible from this walk. There are also many benches built along the track that provide views out over the lake and surrounding areas. If you want to enjoy the swamp life and birdlife then this walk is perfect!
The lake walkway has beautiful plant life and isn’t too difficult of a walk. This would be my recommended walk for most people.
The walk is around 4km total, and the first 600m is accessible by wheelchair. This 600m includes the floating viewing platform. If you are interested in a less serious walk that will let you enjoy New Zealand nature while also having some beautiful views then this is the ideal walk!
The ridge walk, on the other hand, takes the higher ground. This walk follows the predator fence that protects Rotokare’s endangered wildlife. It is definitely worth seeing the fence up close just to see how hard it is to stop predators from getting in. Overhangs are used to prevent any animals from jumping in, and the fence continues underground to stop any kind of digging predators.
One of the many viewpoints over the lake (left). The predator fence that runs along the edge of the track to keep the native wildlife safe (right).
This walk begins from the same carpark as the lake walkway but is a more difficult track. This track is closer to 6km and takes between three and five hours to complete. Due to the nature of the track (being a ridge walk), there is a lot more vertical distance to cover in this track and as such, it is a more difficult walk.
The walk isn’t exceptionally difficult, however at least a medium level of fitness is required. The ridge walk also has some stunning views, and if you are interested in the views it’s hard to recommend one walk over the other. Both of them have unique, yet stunning, views.
Learning About New Zealand Wildlife
Rotokare also has a great education program. Covering everything from early childhood to secondary school year 13 and tertiary education levels. There is a lot to learn here and it is one of the country’s best places to learn and experience New Zealand wildlife. The website also has some cool free resources such as this one about animal tracks and identifying them.
The treetops at Rotokare are filled with trees decades old.
If you are interested in the wildlife that is located within the reserve then their website also has full lists of the animals and plants that can be seen in the park. If you are interested in specifically seeing kiwi, night tours are available and while seeing kiwis isn’t guaranteed, it is one of the few places that you can still see them the wild.
Rotokare is a gem within Taranaki. It’s one of the best conservation areas within the region and is somewhere that everyone should visit when they come. The location means that while it is a bit out of the way, it is also never too busy either. Nature is best enjoyed in the calm and quiet and Rotokare’s location works very well for it in this way.