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The Best Swimming Spots Rotorua has On Offer

Discover the best swimming spots Rotorua has, thanks to the knowledge of our local insider.

Is there any better feeling than finding a dreamy swimming spot on a warm summer’s day? Than laying out your beach towel and admiring Mother Nature all around you?

If you’re in Rotorua, these are the top swimming spots. From quiet lakeside perches to uniquely Kiwi swimming pools, you’ll want to include a visit to a few of these stunning locations when you next visit the Bay of Plenty.

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Manupīrua Bay. Photo credit: Brook Sabin.

Check Out These Amazing Rotorua Swimming Spots

Our Favourite Lakes to Swim in Rotorua

Rotorua is a real freshwater wonderland in Aotearoa. In fact, there are 18 different lakes in the area and they are all epic!

The following are our absolute favourite freshwater lakes to swim in…

Lake Rotoiti – Okere Falls

The area near Okere Falls is a popular swimming spot on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. Indeed, it has turned into a destination within a destination.

Outside of having great rafting river and a cool café, there are a few good swim spots near there. But to make your life easy, the best spot is just over the road from the Okere Falls store.

There, you’ll find a dock that you can jump and dive off of for hours. The water is deep enough and there’s a light current running through to tire you out whenever you swim back to the dock.

Or, if you’d prefer a particularly memorable experience, it’s possible to hop on a plane or boat, heading over to the other side of the lake. There, you’ll find a beautiful area to relax, incredibly clear, calm lake water and hot pools too!

It’s impossible to go wrong at Lake Rotoiti.

Related: Check out our favourite restaurants in Rotorua.

Lakeside hot pools on Lake Rotoiti. Photo credit: Brook Sabin.

Lake Ōkāreka

Lake Ōkāreka is a great swim spot – and best of all, it’s only 15 minutes from downtown Rotorua.

It has a variety of swimming options, all of which are within walking distance of one another.

Boyes Beach has a lovely sandy shore, making it popular with families picnicking the summer away.

Alternatively, head off on a short walk back to the main Ōkāreka township and the Benn Road dock. This is the best dock to jump from in the local area. You can run and launch off the end of it all day long, plus it’s deep enough you won’t hit the bottom, and close enough to the shore you can doggy paddle back safely.

If you walk the other way from Boyes Beach, you’ll find a boardwalk that takes you along the lake’s edge and to the DoC campsite. On the way, you’ll pass a few small cliff jumps which are great fun.

Lake Ōkāreka is a beautiful spot for a swim (and it has great fishing too, if you’re that way inclined).

Related: The best camping spots in Rotorua.

Boyes Beach Reserve, Lake Ōkāreka. Photo credit: Mark Smith Photography.

Lake Rotomā

This place is gold! Though it’s a 30-minute drive from Rotorua, it is well worth the time spent in the car.

Lake Rotomā sits on the edge of Highway 30 and is perfectly located halfway between Whakatāne and Rotorua.

They say it has the freshest water of all the 18 lakes in the area and there is no doubting that when you swim in it, it feels fantastically fresh.

You’ll find a park down the eastern end of the lake that’s perfect to swim from, but it’s both safe and clean to park anywhere along the highway and hop in for a dip.

Lake Tikitapu – Blue Lake

Lake Tikitapu holds a special place in the community’s heart as it offers so much. It is enjoyed year-round by locals and tourists for swimming, boating, water-skiing, jet-skiing, biking and fishing. You’ll also be taken by the striking blue colour of this circular lake.

The main beaches on the western side can get busy in the summer but there’s a secluded beach down the other end of the lake that’s a bit of a local secret.

If you keep driving from the main carpark for 2km (towards Lake Tarawera), you’ll find another small car park on your right (before you get to Lake Rotokakahi). Pull in there and follow the track and steps straight down to the lake.

There, you’ll find yourself a secluded beach – it really is something special!

The Best Swimming Pools in Rotorua

If you’d prefer not to venture out to a lake, there are countless swimming pools in Rotorua too.

The following are just a few of the ones we really love…

Related: The best hot pools in Rotorua.

Secret Spot Hot Tubs

Secret Spot Hot Tubs are the only freshwater pools in Rotorua – and they’re stunning!

Their beautiful cedar tubs are connected by a series of wooden walkways. Each is shrouded in privacy thanks to the masses of native planting that the team undertook. The result is a haven of relaxation that is especially stunning at night (when the lights are turned on and forest comes to life).

Each tub is filled with fresh water, taken directly from a local river. This water is heated in an environmentally-responsible manner, providing bathers with a toasty private pool in which to soak.

We highly recommend paying them a visit – though we will admit, it’s definitely more of a soak than a swim!

Book: Discounted Secret Spot soaks.

Polynesian Spa

The Polynesian Spa is New Zealand’s original geothermal bathing experience.

Perched right on the side of Lake Rotorua, these pools provide the whole whānau exclusive access to both acidic and alkaline natural mineral springs.

The Polynesian Spa is made up of a wide assortment of pools – some of which are designed to be adults-only, others which are family friendly – in all there are 28 of them!

Not only are these pools gorgeous, but with such a convenient location and wide variety of bathing options, we highly recommend a visit.

Book: Assorted Polynesian Spa ticketsUse promo code NZTTPLAY to save 10%.

Hell’s Gate Geothermal Park & Mud Spa

Hell’s Gate is unique as not only does it feature a collection of mineral pools, but it also has a mud bath and a full-blown geothermal nature reserve to explore.

Soak in Rotorua’s relaxing geothermal mineral waters, whilst encasing yourself in silky mud. This mud has fantastic calming properties for your skin and feels incredibly luxurious.

Once you’re ready to hop out of the mud bath, exfoliate and cleanse your skin in their sulphur spas. These pools are the perfect spot to relax and melt away the stress of the week.

Finally (for the brave), there’s also a cool plunge pool!

Book: Discounted tickets to Hell’s Gate.

Pro Tip: Again, we recommend soaking and relaxing here, rather than swimming – it’s not recommended to put your head under in such hot water.

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to swimming spots in Rotorua.

Where will you head first?


Thanks to our friends at Rotorua Canopy Tours for sharing their insider knowledge of the lakes in this post!

Book: Discounted Rotorua Canopy Tours adventures.

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