Rotokare Scenic Reserve

Rotokare Scenic Reserve



6 Rankers Reviews

2 Face-to-Face

12 Bird Watching

218 Walking

67 Freedom Camping

4 Hawera


Get the best out of it. Here's how…


Aerial view from Bush Ridge


We are a pest free sanctuary. We have spent millions of dollars and hours eradicating mice, rats, stoats, weasels and possums from inside the sanctuary.

No pests have been in the reserve since it was enclosed with a 8.2km predator proof fence in 2006. As a consequence our bird life has flourished. We have over 150 Kiwi in the reserve, and four years ago we translocated Tieke (which had previously been extinct in Taranaki for over 150 years). In 2017 we translocated 40 hihi (stitchbirds).They are very rare and exist at only 7 sites on the planet!! You can see we take conservation very seriously.

In order to maintain a pest free sanctuary for the rare birds it is essential that all visitors check their vehicles and belongings for mice or rats and other pests.

We maintain a pristine reserve with clean toilets and an outside shower. We do not receive any government funding for the reserve. We do expect a donation from visitors camping the night. $5 per person, per night is a realistic donation and this can be put in the donation box by the visitor information centre.

Another point of interest is that we have regular Sunday volunteer mornings that all visitors are welcome to join. We do a number of tasks within the sanctuary to do with site maintenance and conservation and bio-security. A free lunch is provided afterwards. Meet at the classroom at 9am every Sunday.

Self-contained vehicles in front of the estuary only. Non-self-contained vehicles outside the public toilets and information centre only. Tenting on lake front only. Local Council By-laws allow only 3 self contained and three non-self contained camps per night.



Feature Value Info


North IslandTaranakiHawera


  • Bird Watching
  • Walking
  • Freedom Camping

Operating Season And Hours

The reserve is open 24 hours every day of the year. Enter through a set of double gates.

Local Council By-laws allow only 3 self contained and three non-self contained camps per night.. Maximum three night stay.

Boating is permitted on the lake between 1 December and 31 March, unless closed by local council for water quality reasons.





Get the best out of it. Here's how…

Charlie's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Definitely more campers than posted, but all quiet and respectful. Teamed up with the neighbours to go look for kiwi with much success!

I don't mind sites with no potable water, but the toilet block could do with an outdoor sink or proper drain for NSC campers to properly dispose of dishwashing greywater - it was either muck up the small sink inside, or toss in the bushes.

Happy to provide a donation to this wonderful space and support their volunteer efforts!

Reviewed over 1 year ago

Conservation Campsite Pass

Save up to 70% on campsite fees! Support conservation and experience the natural beauty of NZ. 78 Department of Conservation campsites, one convenient pass.

Get the Pass

Flatlanders's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

12/10. Beautiful paradise, birds and birdsounds everywhere. Small donation is peanuts for what you experience here. Stayed 2 nights due two van-plumbingproblem-fix in Stratford. Did both walks (lakewalk and ridgewalk (more a follow the fence-walk)) instead of Mt.Taranaki. Both great. Loved the birds-experience and jungleforest even more than the views. Saw so many sometimes very curious birds and on our nightwalk a kiwi! Very happy. All other campers were respectful and quiet. Clean toilet. Sweet little info-nook. Cold shower out of order, but who cares. Drinkwater. Love what the volunteers created here. Beautiful experience. Thank you!

Reviewed over 1 year ago

Rotokare Scenic Reserve responds:

Thank you for you kind words and respect for this wonderful place.
We love our volunteers too! They are the life blood of what we do every day.
Our vision is ecological restoration of this wonderful site. Equally important is sharing the site with our community and visitors.

Regarding the shower - our water is spring fed and very difficult to maintain capacity over the summer.

Top Ranked NZ Deals Pass

Access savings worth hundreds of $$ on Top Ranked NZ Accommodation and Activities for just $1 per day.

Get deals pass

Emily's avatar


Ranking: 9/10

Beautiful, scenic and peaceful camping spot. The space is reserved for 6 tents only so the area is quiet and relaxing. There's 2 walks around the lake, where you may even spot a kiwi (make sure you walk at night and take a red torch to see them!) The camping spot is quite exposed so take some warm clothes! Toilet facilities are clean and well maintained and the area is generally very well looked after.

Reviewed over 1 year ago

Rotokare Scenic Reserve responds:

Thanks Emily. Glad that you had a relaxing stay here.

Avoid Camping Fines!

Each camping location is approved by a regional council in NZ. So if it shows on the map, you’re allowed to stay.

The Rankers Camping NZ app, is also in association with…

Cherie Marhsall's avatar

Cherie Marhsall

Ranking: 10/10

Rotokare Reserve is a gem of the southern Taranaki Region. We stayed for 3 nights over Christmas. It was peaceful and outlook of the bush and lake were beautiful. This Reserve is run by volunteers which is awesome. It was super clean and well cared for. The two walks were excellent and teeming with native bird life. 10 Stars!

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Rotokare Scenic Reserve responds:

Thanks Cherie! Glad that you enjoyed your stay and our fabulous wild life.

Camping NZ App Icon

Camping NZ App

Every camping site on your iPhone™, iPad™ or Android™ phone or tablet. Avoid camping penalties using this council approved app. Featuring offline maps.

Download from the App Store Download Android app on Google Play

thibaut vernelle's avatar

thibaut vernelle


Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful little lake, lots of space, nice walk, brand new facilities.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Rotokare Scenic Reserve responds:

Heureux que vous avez apprécié votre séjour

Dave Bugden's avatar

Dave Bugden

New Zealand

Ranking: 9/10

Lovely 1hr walk around lake

Reviewed over 10 years ago

Rotokare Scenic Reserve responds:

Hi Dave,
Glad you enjoyed your walk.Did you see our hihi?