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Lake Waikaremoana Track

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.


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.

Natural History

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.

Lake Waikaremoana Track Map

Getting There

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.
The Department of Conservation accepts no responsibility for damage to vehicles left unattended in Te Urewera National Park. It is recommended you leave your vehicle with an accommodation provider or at the Waikaremoana Motor Camp.

Track Guide

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.

Huts and Campsites

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.

Hut and Campsite Passes
You must book 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 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.

Other Activities

The lake is suitable for most watercraft but conditions can change rapidly. Boat users are advised to carry approved safety equipment and observe water, safety regulations.
Jet skis, houseboats and floatplanes, are not permitted on the lake.
Brown and rainbow trout are found in Lake Waikaremoana. Fishing licenses can be bought at Waikaremoana Motor Camp.
Hunting of introduced animals such as deer and pigs is allowed. Hunting permits are required and are available free from the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre. Some areas are closed to hunting during peak periods and while possum hunters are working.

Important Information

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.

And please remember

  • All native wildlife in the park is protected.
  • No rubbish facilities are provided. All rubbish must be carried out of the park.
  • To protect ground-dwelling birds, no dogs or other domestic animals are permitted on the track or in the park.
  • Fire is a major threat. Use portable stoves rather than fires for cooking. Permits are required for open fires.
  • 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.
  • No dogs or other animals are permitted on the track or in the park. Dogs and other introduced animals can kill native wildlife.
  • Native plants and animals must not be disturbed, destroyed or removed. The bush is a taonga, a treasure for all.
  • Please carry all rubbish out of the park.
  • Hunting is by permit only. Permits can be obtained from local Department of Conservation Offices

In this section

Trip of a Lifetime!

“I am still basking in the glow from this remarkable trip! I admit that I was a bit nervous at first as I was the oldest person in our group and not as fit (for hiking) as some in the group, so I worried about 'keeping up' on the hikes - especially the steeper climbs. Ben and Lauren were very reassuring and encouraging and I felt that I was able to 'hold my own'. In fact, while the hiking was probably the most challenging I've done in at least 7 years, it was the most rewarding/exhilarating part for me. I loved our group - a very positive, health-conscious and fun group of people from all walks of life. It was also wonderful that we were only 12 people - it helped to create a much more intimate and personal atmosphere. I felt we bonded together well - again, thanks to Ben and Lauren's great skills with ice-breaking, fun games, and ability to set and maintain a positive atmosphere from the beginning.
From the moment we set off from the airport to the emotional farewells back at the airport at the end of the trip, this was a top notch adventure. Our transportation was comfortable, our accommodations were always different and unique and very comfortable - I loved that they weren't all in your standard hotel and that some of them were really off the beaten track. The food was amazing - from the snack basket in the van, loaded fresh every day with fruit and other snacks, to the amazing meals that Lauren and Ben created and the breakfasts and dinners that we had at various restaurants - there was a lot of variety, special dietary considerations were accounted for and there was lots of it!
I did the kayak option and it was outstanding. The B&B and our hosts were wonderful (the hot tub at the end of the day was most appealing!) and our kayak guide, Nick was terrific - very accommodating, skilled and he made it all very interesting and fun!
I cannot say enough about our incredible guides - Ben and Lauren - they truly moved the bar for me from a great trip to one that will go down in history for me as the trip of a lifetime. They were so knowledgeable about the island - I loved listening to the legends/folklore and learning more about the vegetation, birds, etc. Ben was a terrific driver - I always felt safe. Lauren was terrific with her cooking and meal presentations - meals looked fantastic and tasted even better! Both Ben and Lauren added those special touches from decorating the bus for the Christmas season, organizing our Secret Santa, making a fantastic Christmas morning breakfast, complete with Christmas crackers and special hats, managing extra logistics like re-booking the paragliding for us, setting up the helicopter tour, taking the time and effort to help reconnect people with items they had left behind either in our accommodations or on a hike/kayak. They even had the perfect music for when we went through the Homer Tunnel and down into Milford Sound - the combination of the music and the scenery was so moving it had several of us in tears! They really ensured that they got to know each person and took a genuine interest in each person. Their positive energy and enthusiasm was infectious. They took kindness and customer service to a new level! The scenery was breathtaking everywhere we went. It would be hard for me to say what the favourite part was or favourite view as the South Island is simply spectacular. I felt that the trip was organized in such a way that I really got a good feel and appreciation for the South Island. Truly New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places (both 'inside and out') that I have ever visited (and I've visited over 20 other countries around the world). I really loved the more laid-back way of life and the local people we met were so welcoming and kind. I would love to come back again and see the North Island but also re-visit the South Island!
I highly recommend this trip and have already suggested it to a number of my friends. It really was transformational for me on so many levels! My heartfelt thanks to Ben and Lauren and everyone at Active Adventures!”
Sue Hazell's Review Image
– Ontario, Canada
Rimu, January 2018
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