The Lake Waikaremoana Track, located within Te Urewera National Park, is a 46 kilometre, three to four day tramping track of moderate difficulty. It follows the lakeshore for most of its length and is a moderately easy walk. Magnificent forested scenery and plenty of opportunity for swimming and fishing are features of the walk. It can be walked at any time of the year.
Location: Where is the Waikaremoana Track?
Waikaremoana can be approached from two directions. State Highway 38 links Wairoa and the East Coast with the central North Island and passes the lake and the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre. The highway is unsealed for about 80 kilometres between Murupara and the village of Tuai. There are well-marked side roads to the main boat ramps and Lake Track entrances.
Big Bush Holiday Park (06) 837 3777 runs a variety of transport services around the lake, including a twice weekly service to/from Rotorua and an on demand service to/from Wairoa.
Waikaremoana Guided Tours (06) 837 3729 offers a water taxi and shuttle bus service to either end of the track. This runs on demand in winter and to a timetable in summer.
Waikaremoana Track Map
Weather on the trail : When is the best time to hike the Waikaremoana Track?
The best time of the year to hike the Waikaremoana Track is early autumn and summer (November to March), but the track can be hiked all year. The region gets more important rainfall during winter and early spring. If you want to avoid crowds, then avoid the Christmas holidays and January.
Remember, exposure / hypothermia can affect anyone when the weather is wet, cold and windy. Please check current track and weather before you go, and be equipped for all weathers.
Fitness: How fit do you need to be to hike the Waikaremoana Track?
Any fit person can walk the Waikaremoana Track. You will need to be able to carry all your own gear over rough rocky uneven surfaces, climbing and descending for up to 15 kilometres (10 miles) a day with a maximum elevation gain of 900 metres (2,952 feet). It's an ideal trip for groups or individuals. You should start a regular walking programme 1-2 months before your departure on the track. This programme should include some practice at carrying your pack on hills or stairs. You can walk the whole track or walk into one of the huts and return the same way, spend a single night at one of the huts; or stay up to two nights at each of the four huts or two campsites. The choice is yours.
Make sure all of your party is capable of undertaking the planned trip, are fully equipped and prepared for all weather conditions.
Accommodation and facilities on the Waikaremoana Track
There are 5 huts around the lake. They have bunks and mattresses, heating stoves and benches but no cooking facilities. You should carry portable stoves and fuel. They have a water supply and toilets.
Camping is only allowed in the 5 designated campsites. They have water supplies, toilets and shelters with benches.
Please use toilets at huts and shelters. If this is not possible bury toilet waste well away from watercourses. Remember drinking water at huts and shelters comes from rivers and lakes.
Track etiquette and how to prepare
Have a safe and enjoyable trip
- Make sure you are properly equipped and well prepared. The weather at Lake Waikaremoana is changeable and can be cold and wet, even in summer.
- Everyone needs to carry a sleeping bag, portable cooking stove, cooking utensils, sufficient high energy food (with some extra for emergencies), a waterproof raincoat and overtrousers, and warm (wool or fleece) clothing. A portable stove will also be needed. Boots are recommended for the Lake Track.
- Please check at the visitor centre for information on weather and track conditions.
- Fill in your itinerary in hut books as you go.
- Boil, filter or chemically treat water if you doubt its purity.
- Keep to the track. It you become lost stop, find shelter, stay calm, and try to assist searchers.
Please remember when trekking in New Zealand
- All plants, birds and animals in the park are protected
- Please carry your rubbish out of the park
- No dogs or domestic pets are allowed
- Hunting is by permit only. Permits can be obtained from the Department of Conservation
- Fire is a major threat. Fires should only be lit in designated fireplaces. Please make sure fires are extinguished properly before you leave, and use portable stoves for cooking.
- Smoking is not permitted in the huts and shelters.
- Wasps and sandflies can be a problem. Carry insect repellent and antihistamines in case of allergy
- Possums are a pest and damage native trees. Do not encourage them by leaving food outside overnight
How to book the Waikaremoana Track
You must book on the if you wish to stay overnight on the Lake Waikaremoana Track. By booking a bunk or a tent site users will be assured of a place for the date they have booked. Bookings must be made for the 5 DOC huts and the 5 Lake Track campsites. Camping on the track is only permitted at these campsites.
Bookings are also required for Sandy Bay Hut on Lake Waikareiti. The booking system operates all year. Hut capacity varies from 18 to 40 people: a maximum of 25 people will be booked into a campsite per night.
From 1 October to 30 April you may not stay longer than 2 nights at any hut or Lake Track campsite.
From 1 May to 30 September you may not stay longer than 3 nights at huts and 5 nights at campsites.
Bookings for groups of more than 15 are not permitted.
Within these rules you can book facilities in any way you like, e.g. walking to a hut and returning the same way. Bookings can be made online on the DOC website, at the Booking Desk at the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre by telephone, fax, letter, or email. Bookings can also be made through a number of retailers in the North Island. Payment must be made when booking. Please book early to avoid disappointment.
The Lake Waikaremoana Track can be walked in either direction. This track description is from Onepoto to Hopuruahine.
Onepoto to Panekiri Hut: 5 hr, 8.8 km
This is the most strenuous part of the trip, but the views from Panekiri make it well worthwhile.
A small shelter at Onepoto contains track information and a map of the Lake Track with distances and approximate times. The track leads through the former Armed Constabulary Redoubt and climbs steadily up to the top of Panekiri Bluff. It then follows the undulating ridge line before reaching Puketapu Trig (1180). This is the site of Panekiri Hut (36 bunks, tank water).
Water on this section of track is limited, and trampers are advised to carry ample supplies.
Panekiri Hut to Waiopaoa Hut and campsite: 3-4 hr, 7.6 km
The track drops steeply off the Panekiri Range down a valley clad with beech/podocarp/kamahi forest.
At the mouth of the Waiopaoa inlet is Waiopaoa Hut (21 bunks, tank water). The Waiopaoa campsite is nearby.
Waiopaoa Hut to Korokoro campsite: 1 1/2hr, 3.6 km
Korokoro campsite to Maraunui campsite: 2 1/2hr, 6.8 km
Maraunui campsite to Marauiti Hut: 30min, 1.7 km
From Waiopaoa Hut the track cuts across grassy flats and through kanuka forest on the lake shore before reaching the turn-off to Korokoro Falls. The waterfalls are a 30 minute walk up this side track, and worth the detour. Korokoro campsite is 200 metres past the swingbridge.
The track continues from here around a point and through an area of private land to the edge of Maraunui inlet, where a short track leads to Maraunui campsite.
A brief climb over Whakaneke Ridge takes you to Marauiti Hut (25 bunks, tank water).
Marauiti Hut to Waiharuru Hut and campsite: 2 hr, 6.2km
After crossing 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 (40 bunks, tank water) and Waiharuru campsite.
Waiharuru Hut and campsite to Tapuaenui campsite: 1 1/2 hr, 2.1km
Tapuaenui campsite to Whanganui Hut: 1hr, 3.2km
The track runs parallel to the lakeshore before rising over the neck of the Puketukutuku Peninsula, then dropping to the Tapuaenui campsite. From here the track follows the shore to Whanganui Hut (18 bunks, tank water) in a clearing alongside the Whanganui Stream.
Whanganui Hut to Hopuruahine Landing: 45min, 2.7km
Hopuruahine Landing to Hopuruahine Bridge: 45min, 2.5 km
From Whanganui Hut, the last stretch of track out to the main highway leads around to a scenic point overlooking the Huiarau Inlet. It then takes you across the grassy flats of Hopuruahine River to reach the Hopuruahine suspension bridge and nearby access road.
Times are approximate only and will vary according to fitness, pace of group and direction of travel.
Gearlist: What you need to pack
For your own safety it is essential to carry the equipment listed below, no matter how warm it is on the day of departure.
- You will need at least one set of clothes to walk in, and another dry set to change into at night. It is not possible to dry clothes overnight in the huts.
- Boots: need to be comfortable and well broken in.
- Socks: (wool/polypropylene) 2 pairs
- Shorts: (cotton/ nylon)
- Shirt: (wool/polypropylene)
- Longjohns or trousers: (wool/polypropylene)
- Jersey or Jacket: wool/polypropylene)
- Undershirts/ T-shirt: (wool/polypropylene)
- Mittens/Gloves: (wool/polypropylene)
- Woollen hat /balaclava & sun-hat
- Raincoat: (waterproof, windproof with hood)
- Extra socks, underwear, shirt or lightweight jersey.
- Warning - synthetic clothing is flammable.
- It is essential that this clothing is carried as your safety and the safety of others could depend on it.
- NB: cotton clothing such as jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts are NOT suitable.
- Pack: with large waterproof liner
- Sleeping Bag: good quality down or hollofil
- Matches/ Lighter: in waterproof container
- Torch: spare batteries
- Eating utensils: Knife, fork, spoon, plate, and cup
- Cooking utensils: pot/pan/billy, pot scrubber
- Toilet gear: soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, small towel (remember do not wash in lakes or streams)
- First Aid Kit: insect repellent, sunscreen, blister kits, pain relief, and assorted bandages
- Survival Kit: Survival blanket, whistle, paper, pencil and spare days food.
- Drink bottle: you need to drink regularly during day
- Optional extras: sunglasses, camera, and lightweight shoes for in hut, earplugs for communal bunkrooms
- Campers need to carry gas cookers, tents and bedrolls. Campers are not permitted to use the hut facilities.
- Outside the booked walking season walkers will also need to carry gas cookers and mountain radios.
- Is not available for purchase on the track.
- Food should be lightweight, fast cooking and high in energy value e.g.
- Breakfast: cereal, firm bread, honey or other spreads
- Lunch: cracker biscuits, cheese, salami, margarine, jam/jelly, powdered fruit drink, fruit
- Dinner: instant soup, pasta/rice, dried vegetables/fruit, cheese or dehydrated (freeze dry) meals.
- You will also need: snacks, biscuits, muesli bars, tea/coffee, powdered drink, emergency food in case of any delays on the track.
You will need to drink regularly while walking, even on cooler days, to avoid dehydration. You need to carry some water, as you may not be able to find any enroute. Giardia may be present in some areas. Regular testing is not carried out. If you wish to treat the water you can boil water for 5 minutes, use a filter, or chemically treat it. Drinking water at the huts and shelters comes from the rivers and lakes.
A bit of extra background about the Waikaremoana Track
History of the Waikaremoana
The remote nature of Te Urewera has for centuries cloaked and sheltered the Tuhoe and Ruapani, the local Maori people. Tuhoe spiritual and cultural traditions are closely linked with the forested hills of the national park.
In pre-European times, life was determined by the practical demands of an annual cycle of food gathering. Te Urewera nurtured an industrious and resilient people with strong links to the land. No part of the forest was left unexplored.
The Waikaremoana catchment is dotted with areas of private land; some held sacred by the Tuhoe and Ruapani people. Where the lake track crosses private land, you are welcome to pass through, but please stay on the marked track.
Flora and Fauna: What to look for on the Waikaremoana Track
Lake Waikaremoana was formed 2200 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. In 1946 a hydroelectric development lowered the lake level by 5 metres.
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 Aniwaniwa have been carved deeply from soft mudstones, while the more solid sandstones have tended to form ridges like Panekiri.
The vegetation of the Waikaremoana area is like a great green cloak, mantling countless ridges and valleys. There are more than 650 types of native plant present in the park, some very rare. The vegetation pattern is ever changing; volcanic activity, fire, storms, possums and deer have modified the forest in many areas. The forest is regenerating along the shore where the lake level was lowered for power generation.
Many birds live in the forest. Among the more notable are kaka, kakariki, New Zealand robin, New Zealand falcon, rifleman, and at night, morepork 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 the park. Deer, pigs and possums are found throughout Te Urewera National Park. They compete with native wildlife for food. Possums also eat young birds and eggs.