The reserve is located at the end of Lake Okataina Road, this reserve is managed by the Department of Conservation. It is pristine, natural area with native bush down to the water's edge. There are several walkways in this area that provide access to the Okataina Scenic reserve.
The name Okataina means "The lake of laughter", a shortened form of the original name Te Moana-i-kataina-a-Te Rangitakaroro, which means "The ocean where Te Rangitakaroro laughed". Te Rangitakaroro and his warriors were resting when one member of his group referred to the lake as an ocean and this was seen as a great joke by the rest of the group. Their laughter echoed around the lake and now remains enshrined in its name.
Lake Okataina was an important link in pre-European travel routes, when canoes were carried from Lake Tarawera to Lake Okataina. The lake and surrounding scenic reserve is remote and beautiful, with native bush down to the water's edge containing fine examples of rimu, totara, rata and kahikatea.
This lake has limited spawning grounds and the balance of trout is maintained by an annual liberation. An abundance of food, smelt, koura (crayfish), snails and bullies enables trout to reach trophy size in a short time.
Follow the Rotorua-Whakatane highway (SH30) for 24km to Ruato Bay on Lake Rotoiti, then turn right and drive through the beautiful Okataina Scenic Drive.
A boat is necessary for fishing, although during the winter spawning runs wonderful fly fishing is available along the beach in front of Okataina Lodge.