There are 18 lakes within the Rotorua region hence it is not surprising that Rotorua is often referred to as the Lakes District.
Rotorua Duck Tours is one company offering the opportunity to explore a few of these lakes. Where they differ from other tour companies is that it is aboard WWII six-wheel-drive amphibious landing craft.
The vehicle’s technical title is DUKW. Each letter represents a feature of the vehicle. The letter D indicates the vehicle was made in 1942 (the fourth year of the war), U means it is an utility (amphibian) vehicle, K means all wheel drive and W means dual rear axles.
US servicemen nicknamed the vehicles ‘Ducks’. Over 21,000 Ducks were manufactured between 1943 and 1945.
Rotorua Duck Tours offer two tours – the Rotorua City & Lakes Tour (90 minutes) and Tarawera & Lakes Tour (120 minutes). I was booked on the Tarawera & Lakes Tour but for some reason that was not specified this tour was cancelled and replaced by the City & Lakes Tour.
Once onboard I was issued a duck whistle by Grant, our driver / conducktor. These will make the tour fun for the younger tour participants and the young-at-heart.
The Duck drove through Rotorua city centre towards Rotorua lakefront. Grant provided informative commentary on the region and history of the Duck vehicle. The Duck does not enter Lake Rotorua due to the lake weed.
Our first lake to enter was Lake Tikitapu (the Blue Lake). Lake Tikitapu is the smallest of four lakes that lies between Lake Rotorua and Lake Tarawera. Its blue colour is due the rhyolite and pumice on the lake bed reflecting in the sunlight. The Blue Lake Track is a popular 5.5km loop track, which takes approximately 1.5 – 2 hours. There is also the Tikitapu Nature Walk, which is a 30 minute bush walk.
The second lake was Lake Okareka, which is located approximately 12 km southeast of Rotorua city centre. Okareka mean ‘lake of the sweet food’. The banks of Lake Okareka are surrounded by some of Rotorua’s more expensive real estate and accommodation, including Lake Okareka Lodge, which is a five-star luxury lake house, which has attracted international celebrities.
1241 Fenton Street, Rotorua
Phone 07 345 6522