Lake Okareka Walkway is around 5.5 km return. The first 2km to Silver Beach is flat and easy going, the last .5km or so to the Okareka outlet requires some uphill climbing including stairs.
The last .5km of the track is narrower, it’s not too difficult but it’s not accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs. It took us about 2 hours return to do the walk but we dilly dallied watching birds with binoculars and taking photos.
Lake Okareka Walkway starts on Acacia Road where you will find a car park and an information panel. The walk is for people only, no dogs, bikes or horses, there are also no rubbish bins so you need to take out what you take in.
The first part of the walk is on a well formed track through the bush.Then you come to the boardwalk and an information panel about the birds, fish and plants that live in the wetland. Lake Okareka is bordered by farm land so the wetland does a good job filtering farm run off and helping with lake water quality.
The birds we spotted included: a paddock full of pukekos, Australian coots, Canada goose, paradise shelducks, black swans, scaup, a heron, fantails, and to my delight – a silvereye.
After the boardwalk ends you follow a wide, well made track with Lake Okareka on one side, and farmland on the other. You end up at Silver Beach, no doubt a popular destination in summer, but in July we had it to ourselves.
As well as picnic tables and chairs you will find a toilet. If you don’t want to do any stair climbing you could finish the walk here and head back the way you came.
If you want to continue to the end of the walkway (Okareka outlet) then climb the stairs up through the trees and continue on the narrow, bush track. Stairs take you down to the outlet, the water was so clear we could see what I guess is the pipe that drains water from Lake Okareka into Lake Tarawera. That’s it, take a seat on the lake edge and enjoy the scenery before heading back.
PS. If you’ve looked at this post and thought too many photos of birds and not enough photos of the track, click over to the Lake Okareka Walkway post on motowalknz.
Where is Lake Okareka Walkway?
Lake Okareka Walkway is about 12kms from Rotorua city on Acacia Road. Take the scenic route – drive to the Blue Lake* where you’ll find toilets, BBQs, a playground and Airstream Cafe. Then turn off onto Lake Okareka Loop Road and then again onto Acacia Road.
*The Blue Lake Track is another 5.5km short walk. Personally we prefer Lake Okareka Walkway because of the bird life and because it doesn’t require any roadside walking.