One side of Lake Tarawera will frustrate you with a touristy bustle fresh from the buried village. The other end of the lake will delight you with like-minded adventure folks, its quiet, its sunset, and its waterfall track. The Eastern-lake “Tarawera Outlet” is a DOC campground and boat ramp where the warm top waters flow out of the lake and begin their journey to the sea, but only after pouring over a succession of unique waterfalls. Come see this side of the lake—it’s a hassle to get to, but that’s what keeps it good. You’ll see.
Tarawera Falls. (OK, sorry, but here comes another adjective-laden rah-rah.) Tarawera Falls and the warm crystalline stream that leads to it are well-known wonders to Bay of Plenty locals. But it seems that few other people in the country have heard of them. You should hear of it though…so near to RotoVegas’s maw, yet soooo far away. Here’s the deal: azure water gushes out of Lake Tarawera and rushes 3.5km until it literally disappears into a fractured cliff, suddenly reappearing as a torrent surging out of the middle of the cliff…Whoa! An easy hour-long path cruises the 3.5km, passing swimming holes, whitewater chasms, and circular rainbows. Before descending to the falls, don’t miss the above-the-falls-cliff-edge viewpoint just below the upper stream bridge.
This track can be walked from either downstream or from the outlet, but, believe me, it’s WAY better from the lake because upon your return to the lake you’ll have a full chilly bin eager for the beach rather than a dull carpark.
Tarawera Beach. This is where the wake-boarding, beers and bikinis are. Just a short 7-minute walk left from the boat ramp.
Tarawera Northern track. This moderate track runs along the north shore of the lake to Humphries Bay. It ungulates enough to make you sweat (burn off those Woodies) and the scenery is good. Humphries Bay isn’t much except a cleared campsite and a long-drop (no beach). Humphries takes 1 hour 40 minutes from the outlet. Before you get there you’ll pass two small “beaches” at about the 1hour 25-minute mark. These can be wonderful spots for a romantic swim and picnic. From Humphries camp Lake Okataina is just 15 minutes.