Hiking the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk

An enchanting world of rainforest, birdsong and history, the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk is a great way to experience truly untouched New Zealand nature.

Beginning just out of Gisborne amongst the Te Urewera National Park – the largest area of forest in the North Island - this walk is perfect for those who love getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Primarily following the curving shores of star-shaped Lake Waikaremoana, hikers experience pristine rainforest, herb fields, waterfalls and valleys coated in light hanging mist. Beautiful Lake Waikaremoana makes swimming a refreshing activity after a long day’s walking, and numerous opportunities for trout fishing gives you the chance to catch your dinner.

The Children of the Mist

Te Urewera National Park is the ancestral homeland of Maori tribe Ngai Tuhoe, also known as the ‘Children of the Mist’. Renowned for a deep respect for their forests, mountains and rivers, the Tuhoe people had to focus on food gathering and careful preparation for each season in order to survive in this isolated region. As a result, the tribe’s spiritual and cultural traditions are strongly linked with the forested mountains they came from. This isolation also meant farmers and foresters stayed away from the area, so much of Te Urewera has stayed exactly the same as it was hundreds of years ago. The result is an untouched hiking experience that’s about as close to nature as you can get.

Rare trees and birdsong

Te Urewera’s isolation has helped rare vegetation and birdlife to thrive. Countless rivers and valleys are home to more than 650 types of native plants; creating pristine rainforest, wetlands and lush forests of silver beech and rata trees. Listen for the melodic call of the Tui bird and the Kereru as well as the endangered, nocturnal kiwi bird; most active at dusk.

Walk a little or a lot

The spectacular Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk itself takes 3 – 4 days and is 46 kilometres long. However, other options for shorter walks abound, many of which start at the Visitor’s Centre. The 2-hour return hike up to Lake Waikareiti is beautiful; make sure you listen out for the screech of the native kaka parrot along the way. Short walks to some spectacular waterfalls are a must-see while you’re here; both Aniwaniwa Falls and Papakorito Falls can be accessed in less than 30 minutes.

Experiencing the heritage and untouched nature of Lake Waikaremoana before travelling south is a great way to combine lush native forests and lake swimming with the mountains, alpine lakes and glaciers of the South Island.

Combining a few days’ of independent exploring in Lake Waikaremoana National Park with a guided walking tour of the central South Island is the perfect way to make the most of your time in New Zealand. New Zealand Trails offers 11 or 13 day small group guided hiking tours that incorporate some of the best walks in the country. You’ll experience parts of the Milford, Hollyford and Routeburn tracks as well as hike in the National Parks of Arthur’s Pass and Mount Cook. What’s more, you’ll enjoy 4 to 5 star accommodation, gourmet food & wine experiences and iconic New Zealand activities.

We’d love to help you combine the Lake Waikaremoana Track with one of our central South Island New Zealand walking tours – please contact us now. For more information about our tours, please visit our website.

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