Lake Waikaremoana can be walked either from Onepoto in the south or Hopuruahine in the north. It's not a circuit track and is described here from Onepoto.
For a 3 night / 4 day trip:
- Day 1 - Onepoto to Panekire Hut
- Day 2 - Panekire Hut to Waiopaoa Hut
- Day 3 - Waiopaoa Hut to Marauiti Hut
- Day 4 - Marauiti Hut to Hopuruahine
Guided options are available. Find commercial operators that provide services for Lake Waikaremoana
Plays to stay
Panekire Bluff, Lake Waikaremoana
There are five huts and five campsites on Lake Waikaremoana. These must be booked in advance.
Camping on the track is only permitted at the designated campsites.
Onepoto to Panekire Hut
Time: 5 hr
Distance: 8.8 km
This is the most strenuous part of the trip, but the views from Panekire make it well worthwhile.
The track starts from the Onepoto Shelter through the former Armed Constabulary Redoubt and climbs steadily up to the top of Panekire Bluff. It then follows the undulating ridgeline before reaching Puketapu Trig (1180 metres) and onto Panekire Hut. Please be prepared for low tank water levels at times during summer.
Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 36 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Panekire Hut to Waiopaoa Hut and Campsite
Time: 3 - 4 hr
Distance: 7.6 km
From Panekire Hut, the track heads south-west down the range to the top of the Panekire descent. From here the track drops steeply off the range into rolling valleys of beech, podocarp and kamahi forest and the lake.
At the mouth of the Waiopaoa inlet is Waiopaoa Hut. The Waiopaoa Campsite is nearby.
Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 30 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Waiopaoa Hut to Korokoro Campsite
Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 3.6 km
Head up the Waiopaoa Stream a short distance before crossing grassy flats and heading through kanuka forest on the lake shore. Just before the Korokoro suspension bridge there is a turn-off to Korokoro Falls.
The waterfalls are a 30 minute walk up this side track, and are a must-see. Korokoro Campsite is 200 metres past the bridge and a short distance off the main track, towards the lake shore.
Korokoro Campsite to Maraunui Campsite
Time: 2 hr 30 min
Distance: 6.8 km
The track, while undulating, weaves its way through and up and over a number of small ridges, through young rimu wooded areas and along the lake edge. A short track off the main track leads to the Maraunui Campsite.
Maraunui Campsite to Marauiti Hut
Time: 30 min
Distance: 1.7 km
A brief climb over Whakaneke Ridge takes you to Marauiti Hut. This is great spot to stop for the night - at dusk you can go for a walk to the edge of the Puketukutuku Peninsula where you may hear the call of the kiwi.
Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 26 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Marauiti Hut to Waiharuru Hut and Campsite
Time: 2 hr
Distance: 6.2 km
After crossing the bridge over the stream running into Marauiti Bay the track crosses a saddle to rejoin the shore at Te Totara Bay. The track then stays close to the shore to Waiharuru Hut and Waiharuru Campsite.
Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 40 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Waiharuru Hut and Campsite to Tapuaenui Campsite
Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 2.1 km
The track runs parallel to the lakeshore before rising over the neck of the Puketukutuku Peninsula, then down to the Tapuaenui Campsite on the Whanganui arm of the lake.
Tapuaenui Campsite to Whanganui Hut
Time: 1 hr
Distance: 3.2 km
From here the track follows the shore to Whanganui Hut in a clearing alongside the Whanganui Stream.
Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 18 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Whanganui Hut to water taxi pick-up/drop-off point and track start/end
Time: 2 hr
Distance: 2.7 km
From Whanganui Hut, the track reaches the water taxi pick-up/drop-off point after approximately 45 minutes. The track then follows the grassy Hopuruahine River flats to reach the Hopuruahine suspension bridge and track end.
Watch a video of Lake Waikaremoana
Fees and bookings
Fees are charged per person, per night to stay in huts and campsites on the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk. There are no fees for entry into Te Urewera or to complete a day walk on the track.
Pay your fees by booking the huts and/or campsites before you start the track.
Lake Waikaremoana fees
| ||Adults (18+ yrs)||Youth/child/infant (0-17 yrs)
||Free (booking required)
||Free (booking required)
A 10% discount is available to members, staff and instructors of the following organisations, who also hold a valid 12 month Backcountry Hut Pass: NZ Mountain Safety Council; NZ Federated Mountain Clubs; NZ Deer Stalkers Association; NZ Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR); Scouts New Zealand; GirlGuiding NZ.
Discounts are not available online. To receive the discount we need to sight your membership card and Backcountry Hut Pass, so please visit a DOC visitor centre in person. If you get a discount you won't be charged a booking fee.
What to book
Before you start your Lake Waikaremoana walk, you need to book:
- Huts and/or campsites on the track all year round.
- Transport to/from the start/end of the track – the walk is one-way with the track ends approx. 30 km apart.
How to book
Follow this step-by-step process to guide you through booking your Lake Waikaremoana walk:
- Decide what direction you want to walk the track in – from Onepoto in the south or Hopuruahine in the north. Note:
- Water taxi and shuttle services are available to both ends.
- If you have your own vehicle, public parking is closest to Onepoto (at the Waikaremoana Motorcamp or DOC Visitor Centre).
- The track goes up to Panekire Hut so this could be tackled at the start or left to the end of your walk.
- If you're not booking in peak times, check the weather forecast and plan to be on the Panekire Range in the best weather - when it's clear, the views are impressive.
- For the direction you want to walk in, decide what huts or campsites you want to stay at. Consider:
- Decide the date you want to stay at each hut/campsite.
- Check availability of huts and campsites on the dates you want to stay. If there is no space in one of huts/campsites, consider:
- Starting your walk on a different date.
- Re-arranging your walk to use a different combination of huts/campsites.
- Doing a guided walk with a DOC-approved commercial operator.
- Check the availability of transport services on your desired dates.
- Book huts/campsites online or contact a DOC visitor centre or a local i-SITE for personal assistance. Note:
- Bookings are required for children and/or youth even though it's free for them to stay.
- If you’re booking campsites, you’ll need to know the number of people in your group as well as the number of tent sites required.
- Book transport services to/from the start/end of the track with a transport operator. Find transport operators for Te Urewera
Terms and Conditions
Read the Booking Terms and Conditions for general information, age ranges, prices, discounts, penalty rates and the alterations and cancellations policy. Bookings not meeting the terms and conditions will be treated as invalid and cancelled.
Booking Great Walks on behalf of others
To operate a commercial activity in an area managed by the Department of Conservation, you will need to apply for a concession (an official permit), in addition to any bookings you would need to make. Read more about concessions
Booking on behalf of others
To make multiple bookings for facilities/services on behalf of customers, you must obtain permission or an agent agreement from the Department of Conservation. To do this, email: email@example.com
Location of Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk
Waikaremoana can be approached from two directions. SH38 links Wairoa and the East Coast with the central North Island, and passes the lake and the DOC Visitor Centre at Aniwaniwa.
The highway is a gravel surface for about 90 km between Murupara and Aniwaniwa.
Privately owned shuttle buses and water taxis provide transport to either end of the walk. This allows walkers to leave their vehicle at one of the free carparks at the Waikaremoana Motorcamp, the DOC Visitor Centre, or Big Bush Holiday Park, where they are more secure than at the track ends. The Department of Conservation accepts no responsibility for damage to vehicles left unattended in Te Urewera.
We recommend booking transport services in advance, especially in the quieter season, as they operate on demand. Find commercial operators that provide services for Lake Waikaremoana
Know before you go
Make sure you are properly equipped and well prepared. The weather at Lake Waikaremoana is changeable and can be cold, wet and snowing, even in summer. Please check at the visitor centre for information on weather and track conditions and fill in your itinerary in hut books as you go.
Boil, filter or chemically treat water if you doubt its purity.
Keep to the track. If you become lost, stop, find shelter, stay calm, and try to assist searchers.
What to expect
- Climb and descend about 600 m over the Panekire Ridge
- Walk 4-6 hours a day
- Carry a pack of up to 15 kg
- Sleeping bag
- Portable cooking stove
- Cooking utensils
- Sufficient high energy food (with some extra for emergencies)
- Waterproof raincoat and overtrousers, and warm (wool or fleece) clothing. Boots are recommended for the lake track
- Map and compass
- All native wildlife in the park is protected.
- No rubbish facilities are provided. All rubbish must be carried out of the park.
- To protect ground-dwelling birds, no dogs or other domestic animals are permitted on the track.
- Fire is a major threat. Fires can be used for cooking or warmth, unless there is a temporary fire ban, however, a portable stove is a better option.
- If you are hunting - use firearms carefully. Always identify your target. Unload your firearm and remove the bolt before entering huts, and store ammunition and bolts separately from the firearm.
- Native plants and animals must not be disturbed, destroyed or removed. The bush is a taonga, a treasure for all.
- Hunting is by permit only.
Nature and conservation
Rocks on Panekire Range
Waikaremoana was formed only 2,200 years ago by a huge landslide, which blocked a narrow gorge along the Waikaretaheke River.
Water backed up behind this landslide to form a lake up to 248 metres deep. The lake edge has since been modified by a hydro electric development which lowered the level by 5 metres in 1946.
The area is formed from young mudstone, siltstone and sandstone, mostly about 10-15 million years old. These sediments were originally part of the sea floor, but about two million years ago uplift brought them above sea level.
The mountains and hills of the area have been shaped by continuous erosion. Major valleys like the Aniwaniwa Valley have been carved more deeply from softer mudstones, while the more solid sandstones have tended to form ridges like Panekire.
The vegetation of the Waikaremoana area forms a protective green cloak, mantling countless ridges and valleys. There are more than 650 types of native plant in Te Urewera, some nationally rare. The vegetation pattern is ever changing - disturbances by volcanic activity, fire and storm damage, possum and deer have modified the forest in many areas. The lowering of the lake for power generation has encouraged forest regeneration along the shore.
Many birds live in the forest. Among the more notable are kereru (wood pigeon), kaka (forest parrot), kakariki (parakeet), North Island robin, New Zealand falcon and rifleman, and at night, morepork (forest owl) and North Island brown kiwi.
Grey, mallard and paradise ducks are common on the lake edge, and New Zealand scaup, kingfishers and white faced herons are found in sheltered areas.
Both of New Zealand’s rare native bat species, the long-tailed and short-tailed, are present in the park.
Deer, pigs and possums are found throughout Te Urewera. They have a major impact on the ecology of the forest and its bird life. DOC encourages hunting of these animals and permits are available free from any DOC office in the East Coast Hawke’s Bay.
Kiwi recovery work
Lake Waikaremoana Hapu Trust
member Ray Tipu with a young kiwi
Prior to human arrival there may have been as many as 12 million kiwi in New Zealand. The introduction of predators - e.g. mustelids (stoats, ferrets, weasels), dogs, cats, pigs and possums - has decimated them to a tiny proportion of the original number.
Work begun in 1991 by Landcare Research NZ into kiwi decline in the area identified that predation of kiwi chicks by stoats was the main cause. With assistance from the Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Programme, DOC and the Lake Waikaremoana Hapu Restoration Trust (a local Maori hapu trust) formed a partnership to halt the decline of kiwi at Waikaremoana.
The focus has been on predator control on the Puketukutuku Peninsula. Traps have been laid to kill stoats, the main threat to kiwi chicks. Kiwi numbers and movement are also monitored. Possum and rat trapping complements the programme.
Kiwi numbers are increasing in the area and visitors may hear their calls at night. Only continued intensive predator control will ensure a kiwi population recovery.
History and culture
The remote nature of Te Urewera has for centuries cloaked and sheltered the Tuhoe, the local Maori people. Tuhoe spiritual and cultural traditions are closely linked with the forested hills of the park.
In pre-European times, life was determined by the practical demands of an annual cycle of food gathering. Te Urewera nurtured an industrious and resilient people with links to the land. No part of the forest was left unexplored.
The Waikaremoana catchment is dotted with areas of private land, some held sacred by the Tuhoe people. Where the walk crosses private land, you are welcome to pass through, but please stay on the marked track.
Hine-pukohu-rangi came from the sky luring Te Maunga, the mountain, to earth with her. Their child was a mortal being, Tuhoepotiki; his descendants are the Tuhoe people. Tuhoe are thus children of the supernatural, born of the remote mountain and the drifting mist.
The symbol you see on signs, shelters and other facilities along the lake track is an interpretation of Hine-pukohu-rangi.
For more information about Lake Waikaremoana, contact:
Wairoa Information Centre
Phone: +64 6 838 8252
Fax: +64 6 838 8597
Address: Cnr SH2 & Queet Street, Wairoa
Postal address: PO Box 54, Wairoa 4108
Phone: +64 6 868 6139
Fax: +64 6 868 6138
Address: 209 Grey Street, Gisborne
Postal address: PO Box 170, Gisborne
Tourism Rotorua i-site and information centre
Phone: +64 7 348 5179
Fax: +64 7 348 4133
Address: 1167 Fenton St, Rotorua