I'm lucky enough to visit Taranaki a few times a year. My love affair with Mt Taranaki has deepened since my daughter moved there but that hasn't stopped me from falling for a few lakes as well. When I was last there visiting my daughter, after I returned from Australia in mid February, I was in need of a day out by myself and new sights. I'd been itching to visit Lake Rotokare since I first noticed the road sign and had googled it.
Justine suggested I have a look at Lake Ratapiko and to look out for a wedding venue that is there. It's only 12 kms from where she lives, practically on her doorstep.
Lake Ratapiko is not a natural lake but was formed by building a 15 metre-high earth dam across the Mako Stream to create the lake which is approximately three kilometres long. It is owned by TrustPower and is used for storage for the Motukawa Power Station. But there are no concrete walls, it looks for all the world like a natural lake.
I stopped when I came to Lake Farm Garden. The house sits on the far side of the lake, a very pretty scene.
An old calf pen stands at the roadside entrance, a testment to the place's life as a dairy farm.
As I wandered around I realized the road had passed over a little causeway. The water on the other side of the road looked more like a pond, not that I'm any sort of expert on bodies of water. It was covered in something green but looked fresh and alive, not in the least stagnant or smelly.
A duck family leave 'footprints' on the water surface.
I'd like to come back on a day when there is no cloud as I've seen photos of the mountain reflected in the lake. Next time, perhaps.
It was not yet lunch time so I decided to head south to Lake Rotokare which sits about 12km off the main road, just north of Eltham. A very pleasant drive.
Entry to the lake is designed to ensure the effectiveness of the predator proof fence which encircles the 8.2 km reserve perimeter, acting as a barrier to pests that might visit from surrounding farmland. Push a button for the gates to open, drive into the 'vacuum', wait till the first gate closes behind you, then move on and press another button for your release.
It's immediately obvious the difference that fence has made to your surroundings. One minute you are in open farmland, the next you are in a lush, magical forest.
It was a relief (in more ways than one) to find toilet faciities. I really should have thought about that before turning off the main road. But I needn't have worried. There was also a small information room in the visitor's facilities.
I had company as I sat at a picnic table and ate my lunch to continuous birdsong.
My view from the picnic table.
The bush walk was magnificent, with many seats along the way, abundant bird life and beautiful native bush with frequent lake views.
The walk was flat and easy although there is another longer and more challenging walk for those who have a need for serious exercise.
I give thanks to the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust for their work in restoring and preserving this beautiful place. The Trust formed in 2004, in response to concerns about the damage pests were causing to the Reserve’s forests. It originally set out to raise $30,000 for a pest-trapping project. With that achieved, they set about fundraising and building the $2 million pest proof fence, eradicating pests (12 pest species disappeared from inside the fence during 2009-2011 alone), revegetation of 12.5-hectares of land that was gifted to the project by neighbouring landowners.
A wonderful example of what a caring community can achieve.