Lake Rotorua Boating and Cruises

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Lake Rotorua offers ample boating opportunities, as well opportunities for more active water sports such kayaking, jet skiing, or water skiing. While recreational users make up the most of Lake Rotorua’s boating activities, there are a number of commercial operators that provide cruises and boat hire on Lake Rotorua.

Lake Rotorua doesn’t have many sandy beaches for trailer boaters, but is suited to fishermen or boaters who like wide open spaces.

Ohau Channel

Ohau Channel, the natural waterway which connects Lake Rotorua and Lake Rotoiti, has an imposed 5-knot restriction. Here, you might get the chance to see a trout rising to the surface of the water in order to make a meal of an unsuspecting insect.

The water flows fast near the weir at Lake Rotorua’s end of the channel, so this section should be negotiated with caution.

Navigate Ohau Channel's section near the weir with caution, as the water flows fast here.

Things to Keep in Mind when Boating

There are several things to be mindful about when out on the boat on Lake Rotorua. They are common sense things that could be applied almost everywhere you go in nature.

Prohibited Activity Untreated Sewage

It is not allowed to dump untreated sewage and household waste, or discharge petroleum hydrocarbons in any of the lakes in Rotorua. It is also not allowed to discharge untreated sewage from any source, including a boat, into a stream, river, or lake. Doing so may have long-lasting adverse effects on the environment, which may be difficult to remedy.

Cleaning illegal rubbish dumping usually falls on the community, an activity which is not acceptable because of the high risk of water and soil contamination, as well as the adverse effects on human and animal health.

Freshwater Pests

Any boat can bring new freshwater pests into Lake Rotorua. All lakes in Rotorua are being managed in such a way as to prevent the establishment of pest fish, such as catfish or koi carp. If any pest fish or weed establish themselves in Lake Rotorua, it’s highly likely they will cause adverse effects like the degrading of the water quality, escalating the decline of native freshwater plant species, and becoming a nuisance to lake users. 

Bear in mind that just a fragment of weed can transfer the eggs of a pest fish into the lake, or cause a freshwater weed infestation. Skippers are expected to inspect their boats, including trailers, anchor chains and propellers, when they leave or enter a lake. Remove all the weeds or wash your boat if it’s required.

Boat Ramps

There are 7 boat ramps in various places around Lake Rotorua: two in Rotorua, two in Ngongotaha, two in Hamurana, and one in Hannahs Bay. They are all easily accessible concrete boat ramps.

In Rotorua, one boat is located at Sulphur Point, and the other in Ōhinemutu. In Hamurana, one boat is located at Hamurana Springs, and the other on Ward Road. In Ngongotaha, one boat ramp is on Reem Street, and the other on Beaumont Road. The boat ramp at Hannahs Bay is easily accessible from Willow Avenue.

The boat ramp at Hannahs Bay is easily accesible, as are all the other boat ramps around the lake.

    Boat Ramp Rules

    • Make sure your vessel is prepared for launch and loaded prior to using a boat ramp;
    • Use the bins provided at the ramps, and do not leave rubbish on or around a boat ramp;
    • Don’t wash your boat on the ramp;
    • Clear the ramp as quickly as possible;
    • Be mindful of other people using the boat ramp, and offer assistance if needed and possible;
    • Get familiar with the rules and regulations of the area, as most boat ramps have information signs;
    • Power loading onto or power driving off trailers is prohibited.

Lake Rotorua Cruises

A cruise on Lake Rotorua is a great way to admire the scenery and take in the rich history the lake has to offer. Seeing places like Sulphur Bay, Kawaha Point, or Mokoia Island from a boat is a refreshing experience.

One of the hallmark cruising experiences on Lake Rotorua is taking a 1-hour breakfast or lunch cruise on a paddlewheel boat. Called Lakeland Queen, this boat is an authentic replica of a Mississippi River paddle boat and will take you back to an era of steamboats and luxury travel.

lakeland queen paddle steamer
On Lake Rotorua you can take a cruise on a beautiful paddlewheel boat.

Jet Boat Rides and Tours

There are many commercial operators offering excellent jet boating rides and tours near the shores of Lake Rotorua. These jet boating tours give adventure seekers the opportunity to experience the incredible history of Lake Rotorua in some thrilling boat rides.