Imagine a hiking track which has dense thick forests with a view of turquoise blue lake? Seems like a fairy tale right? Yes, it was a fairy tale for us. It was as though we were living in a fairy tale, we were only lacking the mystical creatures! While searching for multi day hikes and walks in Australia and New Zealand, my friend and I stumbled upon the Lake Waikaremoana Track. We did a lot of research, but there was not one place on the internet where the entire information was available. So, I have decided to bring all the information together into one place.
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Legend of Lake Waikaremoana
There is a legend associated with how the Lake Waikaremoana was created. There was a time where a great chief Maahu Tapoa Nui and his family lived near a sacred spring. At that time, there was no lake but below Panekire lay a deep valley with streams that met an ancient river. One day, Maahu instructed his children to fetch some drinking water from a designated stream. The children (except Haumapuhia and Te Rangi) went to fetch water but they ignored his instruction and fetched the water from the sacred spring. Upon discovering this, Maahu turned those children into stone.
Maahu then turned to Haumapuhia to get water. She ignored her father’s request too. Maahu was so angry that he seized his daughter and thrust her head under the spring water. In a desperate attempt to escape, Haumapuhia cried out to the gods. The gods heeded her plea and turned her into a powerful supernatural being. Thrashing the earth, Haumapuhia twisted out of Maahu’s grasp and endeavoured to break out to the east. In this attempt, she formed an inlet known as Te Whangabui-a-parua. Unsuccessful in this attempt, she turned south and tried to escape from Onepoto and reach the sea. She was successful in finding her way to the Waikaretaheke River. But unfortunately when she rose to the surface, the sun had risen and the rays fell on her transforming her into a rock.
Overview of Lake Waikaremoana Track
Lake Waikaremoana is located in the North Island of New Zealand (NZ). It is in a place called Te Urewera, which is around 60 kilometres from Wairoa and 80 kilometres from Gisborne. In Maori language, Waikaremoana translates to ‘sea of rippling waters’.
The Lake Waikaremoana track is 4 days and 3 nights hike from Onepoto to Hopuruahine, which goes around the Lake Waikaremoana. The track is part of the Great Walks of New Zealand. This hike can be done without the guide. Waikaremoana was said to be formed about 2200 years ago.
Huts & Campsites
The track requires the huts or campsites to be booked well in advance. Note: They have limited numbers. The huts or the campsites can be booked on the Department of Conservation website. Vijay and I booked the huts as we were not carrying our camping tents along with us.
The water taxis have to be booked in advance. The booking can be made by calling the Te Kura Whenua Visitor centre on +64 6 837 3803. The payment will need to be made on the start day of the hike.
Onepoto is the starting point of the hike. The only way to get to Onepoto is by driving.
There are frequent flights between Sydney and Auckland. The most economical airline provider is Jetstar.
From Auckland, we are taking a bus to Rotorua central. The cost of the bus is NZD 45 one way. Intercity NZ provides frequent buses between Auckland and Rotorua.
The distance between Rotorua and Onepoto Bay is around 168 kilometres one way (3 hours 20 minutes driving).
There are free car parks available at:
- Waikaremoana Motorcamp
- DOC Visitor Centre
- Big Bush Holiday Park
- Byre B&B (4934 Lake Road, 5 mins before Onepoto).
Since this is my third multi day hike, I have had some lessons learned from my previous two hikes. I just followed the packing list that I had documented. The only change was that I had just one bag this time, so I had to merge the contents of both the bags into one.
Department of Conservation has also suggested a packing list, which can be found on their website. I have also downloaded their copy and uploaded it here in this post.
Details of Lake Waikaremoana track
Map of Lake Waikaremoana track
Logistics of Lake Waikaremoana track
- Total distance – 46 kilometres one way.
- Total hours – 4 days and 3 nights.
- Grade – Hard.
Day 1 – Onepoto to Panekire Hut
- Number of hours walked: 6-7 hours.
- Distance covered: 13 kilometres.
- Grade: Very Hard.
- Stay for the night: Panekire Hut.
Unfortunately, because of my knees not cooperating, I had to return to Onepoto on second day and hence, my friend and I did not complete the below walks. I have left it here as I did lot of research and it will be useful for people doing the hike.
Day 2 – Panekire Hut to Waiopaoa Hut
- Number of hours walked: 4 hours.
- Distance covered: 9 kilometres.
- Grade: Hard (it is a complete descend).
- Stay for the night: Waipaoa Hut.
Day 3 – Waiopaoa Hut to Marauiti Hut
- Number of hours walked: 6 hours.
- Distance covered: 12 kilometres.
- Grade: Moderate.
- Stay for the night: Marauiti Hut.
Day 4 – Marauiti Hut to Waiharuru Hut to Tapuaenui Campsite to Whanganui Hut
Marauiti Hut to Waiharuru Hut
- Unfortunately, this section was closed due to the storm recently.
Waiharuru Hut to Tapuaenui Campsite
- Number of hours walked: 1 hour 30 minutes.
- Distance covered: 2.1 kilometres.
- Grade: Moderate.
Tapuaenui Campsite to Whanganui Hut
- Number of hours walked: 2 hours.
- Distance covered: 4.2 kilometres.
- Grade: Moderate.
Elevation of Lake Waikaremoana track
The elevation ascent and decent is about 600 metres.
This was a difficult one to plan. There are no cooking facilities in the huts. Which meant that we could not have carried any wet items. We could have carried a portable stove and bought a cannister at Rotorua. But since we are traveling from Sydney and were on time limitation, we did not carry a stove.
Note: A huge lesson learned was that there are not many supermarkets or shops in Onepoto where one can buy things. There is just one shop that has limited food supply.
Below are the food items we carried:
- Food like bread, and sauce.
- Chocolates and energy bars.
- Paper plates.
- Water bottles.
- Energy drinks.
I always buy travel insurance for my travels. It provides me security.
- Provider: Insure and Go Insurance.
- Type of Cover: Gold.
- Total number of days: 8 days.
- Emergency phone number: +61 2 9333 3999.
Total Cost for entire trip
- Flights –
- Sydney to Auckland – AUD 272 per person.
- Auckland to Sydney – AUD 183.5 per person.
- Huts for 3 nights – NZD 96 per person.
- Intercity bus – Auckland to Rotorua return – NZD 90 per person.
- Car with insurance – (NZD 382.5 for 2 people) NZD 191.5 per person.
- Water taxi – NZD 0 per person.
- Fuel – NZD 25 per person.
- Travel insurance – AUD 75.32 per person.
- Accommodation –
- Auckland (1 night) – (NZD 95 for 2 people) NZD 47.5 per person.
- Lake Whakamarino – (NZD 120 for 2 people) NZD 60 per person.
- Murupara – (NZD 50 for 2 people) NZD 25 per person.
- Rotorua (2 night) – (AUD 125 for 2 people) AUD 62.5 per person .
- Food & drinks – (NZD 226 for 2 people) NZD 113 per person.
- Waimangu Valley – NZD 40 per person.
Total cost: (assuming AUD = NZD) NZD 1281.32.
- Always try to carry a lighter backpack. If possible, carry only up to 10 kilos.
- Never carry bread. Think about different ways of food that does not get monotonous. Now that there is an excellent product called Heatomate, which I reviewed recently, use that and carry some noodle packets.
- Always buy groceries when it is available.
- Take the walk slow and research a little more about the walk.
Unfortunately, I could not do the entire walk, but that does not mean that I will not go again. There is always a next time and I will be more prepared the next time around. As of the walk, it is a beautiful track with great views of the lake and I definitely recommend this spectacular Great Walk of New Zealand.
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