In the heart of the Te Urewera National Park is Lake Waikaremoana, the home of one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. For those looking to experience the beauty of the area with a day walk this is a great one to do.
Starting with the water taxi across the lake, this is a great introduction to Lake Waikaremoana, known as the sea of rippling waters. This short trip gives you a different perspective of the park with stunning vistas of the Panekire Range and surrounding mountains. From the landing point at Whanganui the track follows the edge of the lake to the Tapuaenui Campsite offering stunning view points along the way. The trail heads inland with an easy climb over the Puketukutuku Peninsula to the Waiharuru Hut. This is a beautiful spot on the edge of the lake; the track continues its quest along the shoreline with more beaches and stunning bush walking to Marauiti Hut and the water taxi pick-up back to Onepoto.
This 12.5 kilometre walk is easy and suitable for walkers of most abilities, allow 3.5 to 5 hours.
Whanganui Hut to Waiharuru Hut: 2-2.5 hours, 6.5 kilometres
From the water taxi landing point take the track to the right and follow for 2 minutes to the Whanganui Hut. Complete the log book, take some photos and return along the track to the landing point. Continue on towards the Tapuaenui Campsite, the walking is easy with great views of the lake. This section will take 45 to 60 minutes.
For your information, this track and the rest of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk isn’t on a well-benched and gravelled track, like the Routeburn and other great walks. In comparison this track is very similar to most tramping tracks which can be muddy and rooty in places and a little more challenging, so a good pair of hiking boots is required. Having said that it’s a very easy track to follow, it’s well-marked and all the junctions are sign posted. However always carry a map with you.
From the Tapuaenui Campsite the track heads inland and climbs gently over the Puketukutuku Peninsula. The climb ascends 100 metres at the most passing through towering rimu, rata and miro trees. These tree types are often referred to as a Podocarp Forest…there’s a nice mixture of trees and ferns here…also prominent is red beech. The track descends gently to the lake and the Waiharuru Hut, allow 60 to 90 minutes for this section.
Waiharuru Hut to Marauiti Hut: 1.5 to 2 hours, 6 kilometres
Waiharuru Hut is in a beautiful location and a great spot for lunch. Close by is where the kiwi recovery programme is situated. Work began in 1991 with kiwi numbers on the raise. The Urewera forest is also the home to a number of other native birds; kereru (wood pigeon), kaka (forest parrot), kakariki (parakeet), North Island robin, New Zealand falcon and rifleman. The noisy tui and bellbird are commonly heard.
From Waiharuru Hut the track follows the shoreline with nice areas of beach and opportunities for swimming. From Te Totara Bay the track climbs over a small saddle linking Te Kopua Bay and a short walk around the bay brings you to the Marauiti Bay where the Marauiti Hut can be seen. The track follows the shoreline which sidles to the footbridge. Cross and follow the track to the hut.
Onepoto car park and Lake Waikaremoana is reached on state highway 38 from Wairoa or Rotorua. From Wairoa it’s 46 kilometres and has a short section of gravel road. From Rotorua it’s 165 kilometres and has a 90 kilometre section of gravel road, which is between Murupara and Aniwaniwa.
The Big Bush Holiday Park operates the water taxi service on Lake Waikaremoana; having used them myself I highly recommend them. The main pick-up points for the start of this walk are either Onepoto or Lake Waikaremoana Holiday Park. By arrangement they can pick up or drop off at any point around the lake. My suggestion would be; leave your vehicle at the Big Bush Holiday Park. You can park there for free and have peace of mind that your vehicle and belongings will be safe. From there they will transport you to the water taxi and return you to the Big Bush after your walk.
The Big Bush also provides accommodation with self-contained cabins, backpacker’s accommodation, tent and powered sites. They have a cafe and bar, plus a shuttle service that runs between Wairoa and the lake. Everything you need in one friendly place.
What to Take
I suggest taking some warm clothes, food and drink. Take plenty of water, if you run short there are streams and the Waiharuru Hut where drink bottles can be refilled.
- A waterproof jacket or raincoat
- Sturdy and comfortable footwear
- Thermal and fleece clothing for warmth
- Hat and gloves
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- An emergency First Aid Kit
- A map
Check my post on what to take hiking, with helpful links to apparel and equipment.
To print the above map, click on mapometer.com at the top of the map. The printing and PDF option at the bottom of this page will print or download the post except the map. Once you’ve clicked on mapometer, the link will take you to the printing or export option. If mapometer asks for your location decline, otherwise it will take you to your location and not the above map. This map gives great information for getting to the start of the track, however it’s only a guide of the route, for more detail on the track click on the topomap below, and this can also be printed.
Expect some variation in times depending on conditions and personal fitness levels. I’ve graded this an easy/medium walk, there’s a short climb of 100 metres from the Tapuaenui Campsite which traverses the Puketukutuku Peninsula. It’s an easy climb with the rest the walk flat with the odd undulation. The tracks are well defined and well-marked, the stream crossings are bridged and the duration of this walk is between 3.5 and 5 hours. Walks that I regard as hard are generally over 6 hours, have longer steeper climbs, have river crossings and requires good navigational skills.
Enjoy your walk and feel free to leave any suggestions or comments ?