Enjoy spectacular views on the Lake Waikaremoana track

Image: 90 Seconds | ©

Introduction

Be welcomed into the homeland of the Tūhoe people. Trace the shoreline of Lake Waikaremoana, the ‘sea of rippling waters’, through giant podocarp rainforest, remote beaches and rugged mountains with stunning views.

Highlights

Alerts and important information

Check for alerts on the Ngāi Tūhoe website.

  • Walk in Te Urewera, the home and ancestor of the Tūhoe people, the first natural feature to be recognised in New Zealand law as a legal entity in its own right, and learn the cultural and spiritual history of the area.
  • Incredible views from Panekire Bluff.
  • The spectacular Korokoro Falls drop off a sheer cliff amidst rainforest.
  • An ancient mountain range of lakes, valleys and peaks formed by landslides and storms.

Explore on Google Street ViewWatch videos


Bookings are open to 30 June 2020.


Video

Track overview

46 km one way

Walking and tramping

3 - 4 days Intermediate: Great Walk/Easier tramping track

Dog access

No dogs

Brochures

Lake Waikaremoana brochure (PDF, 4,313K) - includes map and profile

About this track

Description

Walking options

Lake Waikaremoana can be walked either from Onepoto in the south or Hopuruahine in the north. It's not a circuit track and is described here from Onepoto.

For a 3 night / 4 day trip:

  • Day 1 - Onepoto to Panekire Hut
  • Day 2 - Panekire Hut to Waiopaoa Hut
  • Day 3 - Waiopaoa Hut to Marauiti Hut
  • Day 4 - Marauiti Hut to Hopuruahine

Guided options are available.

Places to stay

There are five huts and five campsites on Lake Waikaremoana. These must be booked in advance.

Camping on the track is only permitted at the designated campsites.

Onepoto to Panekire Hut

Time: 5 hr
Distance: 8.8 km

This is the most strenuous part of the trip, but the views from Panekire make it well worthwhile.

The track starts from the Onepoto Shelter through the former Armed Constabulary Redoubt and climbs steadily up to the top of Panekire Bluff. It then follows the undulating ridgeline before reaching Puketapu Trig (1180 metres) and onto Panekire Hut. Please be prepared for low tank water levels at times during summer.

Views from Panekire on Google Street View

Panekire Hut to Waiopaoa Hut and Campsite

Time: 3 - 4 hr
Distance: 7.6 km

From Panekire Hut, the track heads south-west down the range to the top of the Panekire descent. From here the track drops steeply off the range into rolling valleys of beech, podocarp and kamahi forest and the lake.

At the mouth of the Waiopaoa inlet is Waiopaoa Hut. The Waiopaoa Campsite is nearby.

Waiopaoa Hut to Korokoro Campsite

Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 3.6 km

Head up the Waiopaoa Stream a short distance before crossing grassy flats and heading through kanuka forest on the lake shore. Just before the Korokoro suspension bridge there is a turn-off to Korokoro Falls. Korokoro Campsite is 200 metres past the bridge and a short distance off the main track, towards the lake shore.

Side trip: Korokoro Falls

Time: 30 min

These falls are a must-see. 

Korokoro Falls on Google Street View

Korokoro Campsite to Maraunui Campsite

Time: 2 hr 30 min
Distance: 6.8 km

The track, while undulating, weaves its way through and up and over a number of small ridges, through young rimu wooded areas and along the lake edge. A short track off the main track leads to the Maraunui Campsite.

Maraunui Campsite to Marauiti Hut

Time: 30 min
Distance: 1.7 km

A brief climb over Whakaneke Ridge takes you to Marauiti Hut. This is great spot to stop for the night - at dusk you can go for a walk to the edge of the Puketukutuku Peninsula where you may hear the call of the kiwi.

Marauiti Hut to Waiharuru Hut and Campsite

Time: 2 hr
Distance: 6.2 km

After crossing the bridge over the stream running into Marauiti Bay the track crosses a saddle to rejoin the shore at Te Totara Bay. The track then stays close to the shore to Waiharuru Hut and Waiharuru Campsite.

Waiharuru Hut and Campsite to Tapuaenui Campsite

Time: 1 hr 30 min 
Distance: 2.1 km

The track runs parallel to the lakeshore before rising over the neck of the Puketukutuku Peninsula, then down to the Tapuaenui Campsite on the Whanganui arm of the lake.

Tapuaenui Campsite to Whanganui Hut

Time: 1 hr
Distance: 3.2 km

From here the track follows the shore to Whanganui Hut  in a clearing alongside the Whanganui Stream.

Whanganui Hut to water taxi pick-up/drop-off point and track start/end

Time: 2 hr
Distance: 4.2 km

From Whanganui Hut, the track contours above the lake shore before a climb up and over the ridgeline into the Huiarau Stream. The track then follows the grassy Hopuruahine River flats to reach the Hopuruahine suspension bridge.

Note: Water taxi pick-up/drop-off is in the vicinity of Whanganui Hut (300 m approximately east of hut on point) – lake level dependent.

Fees and bookings

Fees

Fees are charged per person, per night to stay in huts and campsites on the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk. There are no fees for entry into Te Urewera or to complete a day walk on the track.

Tūhoe wardens are stationed at major Great Walk huts during peak season.

Pay your fees by booking the huts and/or campsites before you start the track.

Huts
  • Adult (18+ years): $32 per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required
Campsites
  • Adult (18+ years): $14 per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required
Discounts

A 10% discount is available to members, staff and instructors of the following organisations, who also hold a valid 12 month Backcountry Hut Pass: NZ Mountain Safety Council; NZ Federated Mountain Clubs; NZ Deer Stalkers Association; NZ Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR); Scouts New Zealand; GirlGuiding NZ.

Discounts are not available online. To receive the discount we need to sight your membership card and Backcountry Hut Pass, so please visit a DOC visitor centre in person. If you get a discount you won't be charged a booking fee.

What to book

Before you start your Lake Waikaremoana walk, you need to book:

  • Huts and/or campsites on the track all year round.
  • Transport to/from the start/end of the track – the walk is one-way with the track ends approx. 30 km apart.

How to book


Bookings are open to 30 June 2020.


Follow this step-by-step process to guide you through booking your Lake Waikaremoana walk:

  1. Decide what direction you want to walk the track in – from Onepoto in the south or Hopuruahine in the north. Note:
    • Water taxi and shuttle services are available to both ends, but book early. 
    • If you have your own vehicle, public parking is closest to Onepoto (at the Waikaremoana Motorcamp or DOC Visitor Centre).
    • The track goes up to Panekire Hut so this could be tackled at the start or left to the end of your walk.
    • If you're not booking in peak times, check the weather forecast and plan to be on the Panekire Range in the best weather - when it's clear, the views are impressive.
  2. For the direction you want to walk in, decide what huts or campsites you want to stay at. Consider:
  3. Decide the date you want to stay at each hut/campsite.
  4. Check availability of huts and campsites on the dates you want to stay. If there is no space in one of huts/campsites, consider:
    • Starting your walk on a different date.
    • Rearranging your walk to use a different combination of huts/campsites.
    • Doing a guided walk.
  5. Check the availability of transport services on your desired dates.
  6. Book huts/campsites online or contact a DOC visitor centre or a local i-SITE for personal assistance. Note:
    • Bookings are required for children and/or youth even though it's free for them to stay.
    • If you’re booking campsites, you’ll need to know the number of people in your group as well as the number of tent sites required.
  7. Book transport services to/from the start/end of the track with a transport operator. 

Terms and Conditions

Read the booking terms and conditions (scroll to the bottom to find the Terms and Conditions link) for general information, age ranges, prices, discounts, penalty rates and the alterations and cancellations policy. Bookings not meeting the terms and conditions will be treated as invalid and cancelled.



Getting there

Map with the location of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk.
Location of Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk

Waikaremoana can be approached from two directions. SH38 links Wairoa and the East Coast with the central North Island, and passes the lake and the Te Urewera Visitor Centre in Te Karetu (by the Waikaremoana Holiday Park).

The highway is a gravel surface for about 90 km between Murupara and Onepoto.

Walkers can travel to either end of the walk via water taxi. Book early.

Parking 

Parking can be very busy at the Lake during the summer season.  All parking is at the owners’ risk, please do not leave valuables in your cars.

Parking space is available at:

  • Waikaremoana Holiday Park, near the lake side (up to 10 days free parking)
  • Onepoto (at the Great Walk Trail-end car park, and near the boat ramp)
  • Hopuruahine Landing (at the GW Trail-end car park, note that this car park is 2km off the main road).
  • Āniwaniwa, near the old Visitor Centre site (from this car park you can follow the Black Beech track to the Te Urewera Visitor Centre, approximately 20 mins walk).

There is free day-time parking available at Te Urewera Visitor Centre, however no multi-day parking is available to make space for other manuhiri.

Know before you go

Make sure you are properly equipped and well prepared.

There are no rubbish facilities, so you will have to be prepared to pack in/pack out everything you bring in to Te Urewera.

Huts on the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk don't have gas cooking facilities, lighting or toilet paper. Remember to take a portable stove and fuel, candles and toilet paper with you.

Call in at the Te Urewera Visitor Centre for up-to-date information on weather and track conditions before you leave, and fill in your itinerary in hut books as you go. The weather at Lake Waikaremoana is changeable and can be cold, wet and snowing, even in summer. Te Urewera is a rainforest, so tracks can become muddy.

Boil, filter or chemically treat water if you doubt its purity.

Keep to the track. If you become lost, stop, find shelter, stay calm, and try to assist searchers.

What to expect

  • Climb and descend about 600 m over the Panekire Ridge
  • Walk 4-6 hours a day
  • Carry a pack of up to 15 kg

Care for Nature

To the Tūhoe people, Te Urewera is not just their homeland, but also the mother of their first ancestors. The Care for Nature (Manaakitana Te Urewera) principles help visitors experience Te Urewera and the Waikaremoana Great Walk in a way that accords with her needs, and helps us all to build our connection to nature.

That means embracing experiences in nature that are beautiful and child-friendly, and caring for our wildlife and environment.

  • Camping is only in approved camping areas and huts, which are alcohol-free.
  • There are no rubbish facilities, so pack-in/pack-out – take anything you bring in to Te Urewera out again, avoid single use plastic and don’t litter.
  • All native wildlife in Te Urewera is protected.
  • To protect ground-dwelling birds, no dogs or other domestic animals are permitted on the track.
  • Fire is a major threat. Fires can be used for cooking or warmth, unless there is a temporary fire ban, however, a portable stove is a better option.
  • If you are hunting - use firearms carefully. Always identify your target. Unload your firearm and remove the bolt before entering huts, and store ammunition and bolts separately from the firearm.
  • Native plants and animals must not be disturbed, destroyed or removed. The bush is a taonga, a treasure for all.
  • Hunting is by permit only.

What to take

There are no rubbish facilities, so remember to care for nature and pack in/pack out anything you bring into Te Urewera.

Huts on the Great Walk don't have gas cooking facilities, lighting or toilet paper. Remember to take a portable stove and fuel, candles and toilet paper with you.

Personal equipment

  • Backpack (40–60 litre size for multi-day hiking)
  • Waterproof/plastic pack liner
  • Sleeping bag (3–4 season)
  • First aid kit (including insect repellent, sunscreen, blisterkit, personal medication e.g. antihistamine for allergy towasp stings)
  • Survival kit (survival blanket, whistle, paper, pencil, highenergy snack food)
  • Safety equipment relevant to the track and time of year (e.g. map, compass)
  • Drink bottle (1-2 litre capacity)
  • Eating and cooking utensils (knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup,pot/pan/billy, cleaning kit, tea towel)
  • Matches or lighter in waterproof container
  • Toiletries
  • Torch/flashlight and spare batteries
  • Rubbish bag to take out litter
  • Booking confirmation letter and ID
  • Portable stove and fuel
  • Candles
  • Toilet paper
  • Visit the Kiwi way – never miss an opportunity to use a loo and be prepared with a back-up toilet option
If you're camping...
  • Tent
  • Sleeping mat
Optional
  • Camera
  • Ear plugs for communual bunkrooms

Clothing

  • For multi-day walking you'll need at least one set of clothes to walk in and another dry set to change into at night. Walking boots or firm footwear (should be comfortable and well broken in)
  • Socks (wool or polypropylene)
  • Shorts (quick dry material)
  • Shirt (wool or polypropylene)
  • Under layers, top and bottom (wool or polypropylene)
  • Mid-layers (wool or polar fleece)
  • Raincoat (waterproof, windproof with hood)
  • Overtrousers (wind and water proof)
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Sunhat and sunglasses
  • Extra socks, underwear, shirt/lightweight jersey
Optional
  • Gaiters
  • Lightweight shoes for inside the huts

Food

You can't buy food on the track.

Bring food that is lightweight, fast cooking and high in energy value. For example:

  • Breakfast: cereal/porridge/oats, firm bread, honey or other spreads
  • Lunch: cracker biscuits, cheese, salami, jam/jelly, fruit
  • Dinner: instant soup, pasta or rice, dried vegetables or fruit, cheese or dehydrated (freeze-dried) meals.

You'll also need water, snacks, biscuits, muesli bars, tea or coffee, powdered fruit drinks and emergency food in case of any delays on the track.

Nature and conservation

Natural history

Waikaremoana was formed 2,200 years ago by a huge landslide, which blocked a narrow gorge along the Waikaretaheke River.

Water backed up behind this landslide to form a lake up to 248 metres deep. The slowly rising water submerged forest that can still be seen in some parts of the lake below. The lake edge has since been modified by a hydro electric development which lowered the level by 5 metres in 1946.

The area is formed from young mudstone, siltstone and sandstone, mostly about 10-15 million years old. These sediments were originally part of the sea floor, but about two million years ago uplift brought them above sea level.

The mountains and hills of the area have been shaped by continuous erosion. Major valleys like the Āniwaniwa Valley have been carved more deeply from softer mudstones, while the more solid sandstones have tended to form ridges like Panekire.

The vegetation of the Waikaremoana area forms a protective green cloak, mantling countless ridges and valleys. There are more than 650 types of native plant in Te Urewera, some nationally rare. The vegetation pattern is ever changing - disturbances by volcanic activity, fire and storm damage, possum and deer have modified the forest in many areas. The lowering of the lake for power generation has encouraged forest regeneration along the shore.

Many birds live in the forest. Among the more notable are kereru (wood pigeon), kaka (forest parrot), kakariki (parakeet), North Island robin, New Zealand falcon and rifleman, and at night, morepork (forest owl) and North Island brown kiwi.

Grey, mallard and paradise ducks are common on the lake edge, and New Zealand scaup, kingfishers and white faced herons are found in sheltered areas.

Both of New Zealand’s rare native bat species, the long-tailed and short-tailed, are present in Te Urewera.

Deer, pigs and possums are found throughout Te Urewera. They have a major impact on the ecology of the forest and its bird life. Te Urewera Board authorises safe and responsible hunting of these animals with a permit. Get a permit online

Kiwi recovery work

Prior to human arrival there may have been as many as 12 million kiwi in New Zealand. The introduction of predators, eg mustelids (stoats, ferrets, weasels), dogs, cats, pigs and possums - has decimated them to a tiny proportion of the original number.

Work begun in 1991 by Landcare Research NZ into kiwi decline in the area identified that predation of kiwi chicks by stoats was the main cause. DOC and hapū, and then the Lake Waikaremoana Hapū Restoration Trust formed a partnership to halt the decline of kiwi at Waikaremoana. Tūhoe now runs the programme.

The focus was initially on the Puketukutuku Peninsula. Traps were laid to kill stoats, the main threat to kiwi chicks, kiwi numbers and movement are also monitored. Possum and rat trapping complements the programme.

In 2014 the peninsula reached carrying capacity with around 200 adults, and so in 2015 a further fenced sanctuary was created by Tūhoe on Whareama peninsula. The intention is to repopulate the sanctuary with Kiwi juveniles from Puketukuku.

Kiwi numbers are increasing in the area and visitors may hear their calls at night. Only continued intensive predator control will ensure a kiwi population recovery.

History and culture

The home of Tūhoe

Waikaremoana sits within the Te Urewera ranges, the homeland of the Tūhoe people (Nā Tamariki o te Kohu, the “children of the mist”).

Tūhoe wardens are stationed at Great Walk huts during peak season to welcome manuhiri (guests) to their home, and can share stories and information.

History

Tūhoe see Te Urewera as their ancestor. Tūhoetana (Tūhoe’s culture, language, customs, and identity) is the expression of living with Te Urewera for almost a thousand years.

The New Zealand government (the Crown) invaded Te Urewera in the 1860s and 1870s. Land at Waikaremoana was confiscated, villages and food stores were burned, and many Tūhoe perished through execution or starvation.

As a peace settlement, Tūhoe were given unique self-government of Te Urewera in 1896. However, successive New Zealand governments ignored their own law, and acquired more and more land illegally.

In 1954 the Crown announced the area as a national park without consulting Tūhoe. Remaining Tūhoe territory and settlements were surrounded by the park, causing further disconnection from the land that had given Tūhoe people shelter, food and survival for centuries.

Te Urewera – legal rights for nature

In 2013 Tūhoe and the Crown (government) settled the Crown’s historical breaches against Tūhoe, agreeing a unique approach to protecting Te Urewera in a way that reflects Tūhoetana, and New Zealand culture and values.

Te Urewera’s national park status was lifted and the land was removed from Crown ownership. Te Urewera Act 2014 recognises Te Urewera as a legal identity. Uniquely, Te Urewera now owns herself, and exists for her own sake.

The purposes of Te Urewera Act are to:

  • strengthen and maintain the connection between Tūhoe and Te Urewera
  • preserve the natural features and beauty of Te Urewera, the integrity of its indigenous ecological systems and biodiversity, and its historical and cultural heritage
  • provide for Te Urewera as a place for public use and enjoyment, for recreation, learning, and spiritual reflection, and as an inspiration for all.

Te Urewera Board, consisting of Tūhoe and Crown appointees, provides a voice for Te Urewera. The Tūhoe tribal authority, Te Uru Taumatua, provides operational management of Te Urewera and the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk. The Department of Conservation provides support and assistance with former national park assets.

Contacts

For more information about Lake Waikaremoana and the Great Walk, contact or visit:

Te Urewera Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 6 837 3803
Email:   teureweravc@ngaituhoe.iwi.nz
Address:   Te Kura Whenua
6249 Lake Road/SH38
Waikaremoana 4195
Te Urewera
Postal Address:   Kaitawa DOC Mailshed
Kaitawa Village
RD 5
Wairoa 4195
Alerts and important information

Check for alerts on the Ngāi Tūhoe website.

Te Urewera Facebook page

i-SITES

Wairoa Information Centre
Phone: +64 6 838 7440
Address: Cnr SH2 & Queet Street, Wairoa
Postal address: PO Box 54, Wairoa 4108
Email: wairoainfo@wairoadc.govt.nz

Tourism Eastland
Phone: +64 6 868 6139
Fax: +64 6 868 6138
Address: 209 Grey Street, Gisborne
Postal address: PO Box 170, Gisborne

Tourism Rotorua i-site and information centre
Phone: +64 7 348 5179
Fax: +64 7 348 4133
Address: 1167 Fenton St, Rotorua
Email: tourism.rotorua@rdc.govt.nz

Contacts

Te Urewera Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 6 837 3803
Email:   teureweravc@ngaituhoe.iwi.nz
Address:   Te Kura Whenua
6249 Lake Road/SH38
Waikaremoana 4195
Te Urewera
Postal Address:   Kaitawa DOC Mailshed
Kaitawa Village
RD 5
Wairoa 4195
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