Lake Rotorua is the second largest lake in the North Island by surface area (79.8 km). Although it is quite a shallow lake with an average depth of 11 metres. Its deepest point is 45 metres.
Near the centre of the lake is Mokoia Island, which is widely recognised due to being the setting for the Māori legend of Hinemoa and Tutanekai. Legend has it that forbidden by her father from seeing her lover Tutanekai, Hinemoa swam across the lake to Mokoia Island guided by Tutanekai’s flute. Unlike Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet Hinemoa and Tutanekai’s love story had a happy ending. This story is one that will be heard many times while exploring the Rotorua region.
The Lakeland Queen is one way to see Lake Rotorua. They offer one hour cruises that take in the sights of Sulphur Bay, Kawaha Point and Mokoia Island with live commentary provided by the captain.
I took their one hour breakfast cruise, which departs at 7am and 8am. Onboard there was also an elderly couple from Tauranga for the long weekend and tour bus groups from China, Japan and Taiwan.
It was a grey and wet Queen’s Birthday morning, which did not provide the best photo opportunities. But the grey skies and old style boat did offer a charm to the cold winter’s morning.
At the back of the boat there were two buffet tables. On offer were a wide range of cereals, breads, fruit and yoghurt as well as scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausages, baked beans, and noodles. Tea, coffee, milk and orange juice were available at the front of the boat.
As well as the breakfast cruise Lakeland Queen offers a coffee cruise, one and two hour lunch cruises, and a twilight dinner cruise during the summer. Minimum numbers apply for lunch and dinner cruises. Bookings are essential for cruises I would recommend calling the office rather than booking online. They have a Freephone – 0800 572 784.
The Lakeland Queen, which is modelled after Mississippi style river boats, was built in Rotorua in 1986 and refurbished in 2006. It is stern-wheel paddle driven and has been specially designed for Lake Rotorua’s shallower waters.
The boat has two separate decks, outdoor viewing platforms and two licensed bars. It can host up to 240 seated dining guests or 300 guests cocktail style.
It departs from Lake Rotorua waterfront off Memorial Drive.
Memorial Drive, Lakefront, Rotorua
Ph: + 64 7 348 0265
Freephone: 0800 572 784