Journey into the enchanted green world that surrounds beautiful Lake Waikaremoana. Venture through rainforest, wetlands and a magical 'goblin forest'.
The Lake Waikaremoana track has the largest area of native forest in the North Island. This region is the ancestral home of the Maori tribe Ngai Tuhoe - the ‘Children of the Mist’. Entirely within the boundaries of Te Urewera National Park, the track mostly follows the shores of the great lake. Over three to four days, it leads you through pristine rainforest, regenerating shrubland areas of wetland, rush and herbfield and a magical ‘goblin forest’. You will also discover magnificent rivers, waterfalls and ghostly valleys of mist.
The Tuhoe people have lived in the Te Urewera region for centuries and they have deep spiritual links with the land. Isolation and the Tuhoe’s respect for their forests, mountains, rivers and lakes have kept foresters and farmers away from Te Urewera. It is a living treasure where nature is totally in charge. Home to nearly every species of North Island native forest bird, the area also gives visitors a glimpse of the avian culture that once flourished in New Zealand. The melodic call of the tui is likely to follow you everywhere as well as the Kereru (wood pigeon); make sure to listen for the call of the kiwi bird at dusk.
Day 1, Onepoto > Panekire Hut, 8.8 km
The first day is the most challenging part of the walk, but the spectacular views from Panekire make it worth the effort. The track itself begins from the Onepoto Shelter before climbing steadily to the Panekire Bluff. It then follows undulating ridgeline before reaching Panekire Trig (1180 metres). Here, enchanting long-range scenic views across the lake to the misty forest-clad mountains await. Shortly after the trig you'll arrive at Panekire Hut.
Day 2, Panekire Hut > Waiopaoa Hut, 7.6 km
From Panekire Hut, the track heads south-west to the top of the Panekire descent. From here, the track drops off into rolling valleys of native forest. You’ll see rimu trees towering above the lower canopy of red beech. Rimu have drooping branches and long, prickly leaves. Other native species that dominate the upper canopy include miro, matai, totara, rata, tawa and a range of tree ferns. At the edge of the forest you'll come to the Waiopaoa Inlet, where the Waiopaoa Hut is located.
During the walk
The walk is dotted with five Department of Conservation (DOC) huts as well as a number of campsites. Reservations or tickets (depending on the time of year) are required for all huts and campsites. During summer season, running from October to April, advance bookings are required. During the winter season, running from May - September, advance bookings are not required.
Before and after
The walk is not a circuit track, so if you choose to drive to the beginning you will need to organise transport from the end of the track. Shuttle busses or a water taxi are good options.
The walk begins near the town of Wairoa, which has limited accommodation - click here for options. An hour and a half away lies the sunny city of Gisborne, which has more options for accommodation as well as many of its own attractions on offer.
A number of specialist tour operators can aid in bringing your walking experience to life. Take a look at these businesses to find if a walking tour is right for you.
If you want to walk this track independently, you will need a Great Walks Pass. The fees for this varies between each Great Walk, but all prices are very reasonable as they are heavily subsidised in order to foster participation by many people.