What a great place to take the family! Lake Domain beside Rotoroa Lake is a picturesque spot to stop and enjoy the surroundings. You can relax alongside the lake, go for a walk around it's perimeter or head to the families area where there are playgrounds and activities galore.
Lake Domain is quite a sizable reserve along the banks of Rotoroa Lake. The main Rotoroa Drive is accessed from either Ruakiwi Road or Lake Domain Drive. There are ample benches and seats for a relaxing sit beside the lake. While the lake is just a short drive from the city, the noise level is low. The area is well groomed with grassy areas, palm trees, car parks and the lake walk. There is plenty of wildlife enjoying the lake and the surrounding park. It's peaceful to watch the ducks and birds potter around.
The main event is obviously the lake. It's a calm body of water with an area of 54 hectares. You can even walk around it's perimeter. The path is 3.8km long and there are plenty of seats along the way. On your walk there is plenty of scenery to take in You can see across the lake to the city, and the houses. The path is also a popular route for joggers. Innes Common is on the other side of the lake, and is another park like area, though not as good for kids as Lake Domain is.
If you have little ones then this is place you must visit. Listen to this run down of the activities for kids at this park: Two playgrounds, a massive slide, swings galore, and a lifesize Thomas style train with it's own station - all this in one spot! This, the western of the lake will keep the kids entertained for a hours. The big slide is set down the side of a hill. Of metal construction it's in the older style but it still keeps kids entertained after all these years. Not for the faint-hearted, and it is recommended to bring a blanket or something to slide on.
There are two playgrounds to choose from. The playground nearer the waterfront is aimed at younger children. It has small swings, a low playground and activities to suit young ones. A nice touch are the little boats and cars set in the the ground. This playground has a glass wall fence around it to stop little ones wandering off, which is a nice touch. Also great in that it doesn't block the view of the lake. The toilets and changing rooms and also next door to the toddlers playground.
The big playground is aimed at the older kids. It's pretty elaborate and has at least 4 different zones and a big yellow slide. There is a bench for the 'supervisor' to sit on, and the playground is right in front of the car park. If you time it right, you can get a park right there. The domain also has a separate set of swings further down the bank, overlooking the water.
Close to the entrance to the park is the decommissioned train. Painted red and black it is a real steamer and if it was blue would look exactly the same as Thomas the tank engine - same shape. Kids can actually go inside the engine room. There is a station built beside it, and kids can step over into the engine. This is a nice little touch, and a must see for Thomas fans!
The verandah Cafe is a curiously shaped building overlooking the water. Have lunch or an early coffee, while you watch the kids at the playground or the swings. There are plenty of benches closer to the water, so grab a coffee go and watch the ducks. There is a platform that goes out over the water and this is a prime spot for bird feeding.
Up the bank, at the entrance to the domain are the rose gardens. See mature, established roses in all colours. There are also sculptured gardens over towards the train area. Another notable is the curious Maori sculpture on the crest of the hill.
On the eastern side of the Lake is Innes Common. This side of the lake is accessed via Lake Crescent or Killarney Road. Innes Common is a large park and home to the Waikato Hockey Association. They have a large hockey pitch there. This spot is also the best place to launch small watercraft, or kayaks. The lake is great for small sailing boats.
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All in all Lake Domain is a great place to take the little ones. Hours of fun, and a chance to have a good sit down with a coffee too. This lakeside paradise is just down the road from the Waikato Hospital. An excellent picnic spot, either in the main area, or drive up Rotoroa drive a little where there are less people. You'll find a nice, lakeside spot to park the car and relax.