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Lake Tarawera
Lake Tarawera.jpg
Lake Tarawera is located in North Island
Lake Tarawera
Lake Tarawera
Location in North Island
Location Rotorua Lakes, Bay of Plenty Region, North Island
Coordinates 38°12′S 176°27′E / 38.200°S 176.450°E / -38.200; 176.450
Basin countries New Zealand
Max. length 11.4 km (7.1 mi)
Max. width 9.0 km (5.6 mi)
Surface area 41.0 km2 (15.8 sq mi)
Average depth 57.0 m (187.0 ft)
Max. depth 87.5 m (287 ft)
Surface elevation 298 m (978 ft)
NZ-L Tarawera
Lake Tarawera

Lake Tarawera is the largest of a series of lakes which surround the volcano Mount Tarawera in the North Island of New Zealand. Like the mountain, it lies within the Okataina caldera. It is located 18 kilometres (11 mi) to the east of Rotorua, and beneath the peaks of the Tarawera massif i.e. Wahanga, Ruawahia, Tarawera and Koa. The lake's surface area is 39 square kilometres (15 sq mi).


The lake was substantially affected by the eruption of Mount Tarawera on 10 June 1886. The lake outlet was blocked for two decades and the lake level increased. The eruption killed over 150 people, and buried the Māori village of Te Wairoa on the southwest shore of the lake.

Abaconda lake tarawera
Lake Tarawera, with Mount Tarawera standing behind it

Also assumed destroyed were the famed Pink and White Terraces. However, in February 2011 a team mapping the lake floor discovered what appeared to be part of the Pink Terraces. The lowest two tiers of the terraces were reportedly found in their original place at 60 metres (200 ft) deep (too deep for scuba diving without special gas gear). Subsequently, a portion of the White Terraces was reportedly rediscovered in June 2011. The announcement of the rediscovery of the White Terraces coincided with the 125th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886. It was thought that the rest of the terraces may be buried in sediment rather than having been destroyed.

More recent research questions these earlier findings and reports the Pink and White terrace spring sites instead lie on land (along with a lesser-known Black Terrace spring).

Tarawera means "Burnt Spear", named by a visiting hunter who left his bird spears in a hut and on returning the following season found both the spears and hut had been burned down completely.

The lake is filled primarily by water flowing through the volcanic rocks and ashes, only about 42% being from water flowing in streams, etc. The flows are estimated to be -

Hot Water Beach, Tarawera
Steam rising from Hot Water Beach, Te Rata Bay, as viewed from Tarawera Track
Water flows to Lake Tarawera litres/sec
Rotomahana to Tarawera (including 700 from Rerewhakaaitu and 67 from Okaro) 3018
Te Puroku No. 2 (from rock face spring) 384
Okataina to Tarawera 350
Te Wairoa Stream 310.6
Okareka to Tarawera 245
Jetty Stream (ramp 4) 226
Rotokakahi to Tarawera (including 85 from Tikitapu) 210
Wairua Stream 208
Tarawera Peak Stream rockslide 173.5
Te Puroku No. 1 123
Waitangi Stream 102.3
Tarawera Peak Stream spring 91
Tarawera Peak and Camp stream 64.5
Te Wairoa wharf spring 26.6
Te Whekau Stream 19.5
Orchard Stream 15.6
Other surface flows 10
Waitangui spring 3.9
Spencer Rd Ford Stream 1.5
Total surface inflow 1760
Total surface outflow (Tarawera River) 7240

Lake Tarawera is home to eels and rainbow trout. During the summer it is popular for both fishing and water sports, and also camping as there a number of hot water beaches.

The main hot water sources are in the southern section of the lake at the Wairua Stream, Hot Water Beach and Te Puha and Tarawera fumaroles. There is also a small geothermal area at Humphrey's Bay, to the south of Lake Okataina. Water varies between 37 °C (99 °F) and 90 °C (194 °F).

Lake Tarawera's outflow is at its north east end, into the Tarawera River, which flows northeast into the Bay of Plenty.

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