Discover Korokoro Stream and the magical falls © Siyamalan Creative Commons

Lake Waikaremoana: hidden gem

View the map


Te Urewera, according to eye-watering local legend, was named to commemorate a nocturnal incident involving the leader of a war party, someone else’s wife and the painful conjunction of his nether regions with a campfire.

The rugged, forested expanse also boasts the largest untouched swathe of bush in the North Island. Deer and pigs abound here, and the dense, luxuriant rainforest forms a handsome setting for the gem that is Waikaremoana, ‘the lake of rippling waters’.

What a shot! You can almost smell it. Ps: for the international viewers, these orange markers denote a track, and are common throughout (most) of the country #MakeItHomeNZ 🏠🏔🏠 —> 📷 @jaseretter ・・・ “It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so I thought I’d share an image from my latest adventure. Probably not the most iconic view, but this was taken on the Waikaremoana Great Walk as the mist came and went on the climb to the Panekire Hut. If you ever have the opportunity to do any one of the New Zealand Great Walks I highly recommend it, it’s an awesome way to experience native New Zealand and meet some interesting people at the huts and camp sites along the way.” #hpow#neverstopexploring #ig_newzealand #docgovtnz #shzzz_hub #moodygram #bbctravel #igpodium #opentheworld #travelnz #nzmustdo #travelingsoul #mthrworld #nzimagery #nooneseesitlikeyou #newzealandfinds #newzealandguide #newzealandgram #destinationnz #gottalovenz #travelphotos #igworldclub #majestic_earth_ #wanderlustofnz #realmiddleearth #splendid_earth #ourplanetdaily #gottalovenz

A post shared by Mountain Safety Council (@mountainsafetycouncil) on Oct 17, 2017 at 4:26pm PDT

The track that performs a half-circuit around the lake is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and makes for an unforgettable tramping experience. It covers a total distance of 46km and while there are seven huts en route, it can be covered in a relatively easy four days. You can trace the route online or, even better, experience it for yourself...

The track can be tackled from either direction, but if anyone tries to tell you to do it from the Onepoto Bay end, disregard their advice and shun them as fools thereafter. Far better to start at Hopuruahine Landing, so that by the time you tackle the formidable climb to Panekiri Bluff on the second-to-last day, your pack is much lighter.

Waikaremoana was formed when a landslide triggered by an earthquake dammed the tributaries of the Waikare-Tāheke River.

Divers and grumpy anglers report a sunken petrified forest at one end of the lake. The walk follows the foreshore on either flat or undulating terrain, until that final gasping ascent through the tortured and moss-bedecked forms of ancient beech trees to Panekiri Bluff, which commands a gob-smacking view over the lake and the deep green Urewera ranges.

At Onepoto Bay, the outlet to the track, there are the remains of an Armed Constabulary redoubt and the tombstones of soldiers who were killed there in one episode of the touchy relationship between Tūhoe and the Crown.

Blake & a big lake 👀‍♂️

A post shared by Krish 🙋 (@krysiadrecki) on Jan 26, 2017 at 3:17pm PST

The lake is great fishing and if you don’t feel up to walking the entire track you can get a water taxi to pick you up or drop you off on sections of it, such as at the entrance to the short but rewarding walk up to Lake Waikareiti.

The wider Te Urewera offers plenty of other short or long walks, and the hunting is as superb as the terrain is challenging. And never mind all that physical stuff, one of the great beauties of the Urewera is just how pretty the roads are, in and out.

Te Urewera – enjoy, but mind that campfire.

Explore more...

More stories like this

Find out more


Take to the rails on a Gisborne Railbike Adventure

Just outside Gisborne you can cruise along a coastal railway line – by bike.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Get outdoors

Hand-feed wild stingrays in Gisborne

At Tatapōuri, just 10 minutes north of Gisborne, you can get up close with the children of Tangaroa, the Māori god of the sea. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Get outdoors

Lake Waikaremoana Track: around the rippling waters

The Lake Waikaremoana Track, in the remote Te Urewera region southeast of Rotorua, traces the shoreline of this spectacular lake, named by Māori the ‘sea of rippling waters.' Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Road trips

Pacific Coast Highway: the long way round

Lap up over 300 kilometres of pure road trip paradise from Ōpōtiki to Gisborne.  Read the story . . . 

AA Members save on selected accommodation with
AA Traveller

AA Members
Book now
Non Members
Book now