Lake Okareka is located on Lake Okareka Loop Road and is in the proximity to Lake Tikitapu and Lake Rotokakahi. The Lakes is 340 ha and the catchment has an area of 1980 ha. The catchment is predominantly native bush, however there is an area also low intensity pastoral farming and and urban zone around the southern shore.
Lake Okareka is a “mesotrophic” lake, meaning it has moderate levels of algal productivity and it is still reasonably clear and clean. Public reserves around the lake provide good access and allow people to value the experience of the natural environment and picturesque views. There are wildlife habitats, wetlands, a native forest backdrop to the east and partially to the other sides, and access to walkways. The lake is used extensively for recreation, such as boating, fishing, water skiing and bathing. All of this contributes to the high value that permanent residents and visitors place on Lake Okareka and its surrounds.
Okareka means "the lake of sweet food". In early times, Maori grew sweet potatoes or kumara around the outside of the lake.
Lake Okareka has reasonably clear, clean water and is used extensively for recreation such as boating, swimming and fishing. However, the quality of the water has been affected, over time, by land use in the catchment. Nutrients have been introduced to the lake from surrounding farmland, residential septic tanks and from the release of existing and accumulated nutrients from sediments on the lake bed. These nutrients have affected lake water quality.
Drains to Lake Tarawera via Waitangi Springs and an artificial surface channel.
Water quality for Lake Ōkāreka has improved as a result of completing actions specified in the Lake Ōkāreka Action Plan for the lake, including sewerage reticulation and land use change. While the lake does have stable water quality, it has remained slightly above its target Trophic Level Index of 3, at 3.3 - 3.4 for a number of years now. The University of Waikato is currently undertaking further modelling to determine the reductions required to bring the lake to its target Trophic Level Index.