Lake Waikaremoana Track: Trip Report

Lake Waikaremoana, one of the Nine Great Walks, is not a highly-visited track in a remote location on the North Island. Located in the Te Urewera rainforest, this walk brings you through an area that is highly spiritual for the Moari people and still home to several Moari tribes. While this track is one of the least popular among the great walks, it is a unique walk around half of Lake Waikaremoana through a lush rainforest. Unless attempting to complete all Nine Great Walks, this was our least favorite walk in New Zealand.


Lake Waikaremoana Track, The Nine Great Walks of New Zealand, Check out more at

Lake Waikaremoana


Where Is It

Located three hours southeast of Rotorua towards Napier, Lake Waikaremoana is within Te Urewera National Park. This rainforest is only accessible by 70km of gravel roads. The roads can get muddy and very slick when wet. This park was once managed by the DOC, however it was recently given back to the local Mauri tribe to manage all of the huts.



Lake Waikaremoana is a year-round track. Huts and campsites require prior bookings. Summer is the best time to visit Waikaremoana, when it is not rainy season.


How Many Days

This hike is a two or three-day hike. The track is easy with only one incline/decline up the Panekiri Bluff. For more details on hut locations, distances and maps, check out the DOC website for the Lake Waikaremoana Track.


How to Book

Huts and tent camping must be booked prior to hiking. Campsites cost $14 pp and huts cost $32 pp year-round. Book online for in season at the DOC’s website.


Booking Transportation

Big Bush Holiday Camp is the best in town for boat transportation on the lake. The Great Walk is half the lake, entirely inaccessible by road. Big Bush offers freedom camping or dorm rooms and a boat transfer to or from Hopuruahine. The cost to leave your car at Big Bush, a van dropoff/pickup, and boat transfer to/from Hopuruahine costs $50 per person. But with full disclosure they forgot to pick us up on or last day and we had to hitch a ride.


Lake Waikaremoana Track, The Nine Great Walks of New Zealand, Check out more at

View from the road driving into Te Urewera



Trip Report

Our Hike

Distance: 27.6 miles / 44.4 kilometers

Elevation: 4,659 feet (1,421m) ascent, 4,724 feet (1,440m) descent

Time: 2 days (11 hours 50 minutes)


Lake Waikaremoana Track, The Nine Great Walks of New Zealand, Check out more at

Walking through the bush

Day 1

From Hopuruahine dropoff too Waiopaoa Hut

Distance: 17.6 miles / 28.3 kilometers

Elevation: 1,690 feet (516m) ascent, 1,765 feet (538m) descent

Time: 6 hours 50 mins


From the dropoff at Hopuruahine, it is three and half hours to Marauiti Hut, the midpoint and a good place for lunch. It is another three hours to Waiopaoa Hut. This hike is moderately flat through lush rainforest with a couple viewpoints of the lake.


Lake Waikaremoana Track, The Nine Great Walks of New Zealand, Check out more at

Walking along the lake’s edge

Day 2

From Waiopaoa Hut to Onepoto and shuttle back to Big Bush Holiday Park

Distance: 10 miles / 16.1 kilometers

Elevation: 2,969 feet (905m) ascent, 2,959 feet (902m) descent

Time: 5 hours


From Waiopaoa Hut, there is a two and half hour incline up the bluff to Panekiri hut. Panekiri hut is atop the bluff and a good place for a stop, hopefully with clear views. This is known as the best view of the hike. From Panekiri, it is another two and half hours descending to the Onepoto track entrance.


Lake Waikaremoana Track, The Nine Great Walks of New Zealand, Check out more at

Some days come with no views…

Day Hike Alternative 

With good weather, a day hike option would be to park at Onepoto and day hike up to Panekiri hut and return to Onepoto. This is the best place on the hike for views. Expect this return hike to take 5-7 hours including breaks.



Important Things to Know

  • Be prepared for rain and mud. This track is in a dense rain forest. With heavy rain, mud can be ankle deep.

  • Bring dry socks and clothes for each day of the hike.

  • The only phone signal that works in Te Urewera National Park is vodophone.

  • Food is very limited and extremely expensive, do not expect to make any purchases around the lake. Stock up before you come.

  • Make sure to fill up on petrol in Wairoa or Murupara.  It costs $4 per litre in Te Urewera.

  • Huts do not have cooking stoves on this track.

  • Water is available at each hut. Water is not filtered and you can filter/boil for your own precaution, however hut water is almost always drinkable in all of New Zealand.



The Nine Great Walks of New Zealand



Read more about all our posts on New Zealand:




Return to Oceania

Return to Travel Destinations



Let Us Know What You Think? Comment Here...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest