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Lake Waikaremoana

After a 2 month hiatus from the New Zealand wilderness, we were excited to get back on the track for another famous Great Walk. Lake Waikaremoana is one of New Zealand’s largest fresh water lakes and is situated in the North-eastern part of the North Island with a long history with the Maori. This 46km semi-circular track is a beautiful 3-4 day walk along the edge of the star-shaped lake.

Due to the popularity of the Great Walks over the holidays, even with 2 months booking notice we still barely got a spot in the hut/campsites to enable us to do the walk over the break. Unfortunately that meant we had to leave on Christmas day to start the track on Boxing Day, so after a morning of Skype dates with our families back home, we were off up the North Island for an 8 hour journey to our campsite by the Lake.
All set to start the track! 

Up early for the 8am departure, we were dropped off at the start of the track and set forth up the Panekiri bluff for a 5hr climb to the top. The track was rugged with tree roots and rocks all over the track requiring some special maneuvering. Once we got near the top through the view was well worth the climb!

Enjoying the view 
Beautiful view of the lake below 

We finally reached the Panekiri hut and were happy to take off our packs and find a bunk. We met a really interesting English couple who have done some amazing tramping including the Appalachian Trail on the east coast of the US – a 6 month journey camping!

Nearing the top of Panekiri Bluff 

The next morning we were in for a steep decent down the mountain towards our campsite. The tree roots proved to be quite the challenge yet again, requiring some jumps down some pretty hairy sections with our heavy packs on our back. The terrain reminded me of a hike we did on Bruce Peninsula in Ontario – with a few New Zealand ferns and tropical plants in the mix.

Enjoying the beautiful vegetation 

Once we setup our camp, we set off for the Korokoro falls where we went for a quick dip and even were able to climb in behind the beautiful 22ft waterfall! It was very refreshing after a long hot day on the track.

Excited to go for a swim at Korokoro falls 
Beautiful Korokoro falls 

Our campsite was situated on a beautiful section of the lake and was accompanied by a number of native ducks, including the New Zealand blue duck. They chilled out with us the entire night as we make some food and chatted with a friendly couple from Auckland.

Our campsite view 

The next day was a flatter section of the track, but felt much harder than the previous days, probably from the fatigue setting in. A few unexpected hills drained most of our energy, but we made it to our campsite by the lake with lots of light to spare. A quick dip in the lake was refreshing for the legs and feet.

Some amazing trees along the route 

Since the Waiharuru campsite was not as nice as our last – with no proper counter or running water – we decided to sneak into the neighboring hut to have our dinner and play some crazy 8 countdown. When the warden came by checking passes, we had to move back to our campsite where we chilled for a little longer before heading to bed early. We heard there was a chance to catch an early boat, so we set our alarm for 5:30am in hopes of making the 9:45am shuttle instead of the 2pm. The campsite was located near the Kiwi Estuary so in the middle of the night we could hear the Kiwis calling in the distance.

Campsite at Waiharuru 

With energy to burn, we killed the last part of the track, finishing it in 2h15m as opposed to the 3h45min expected time. We chatted with a few other couples gunning for the early ferry and were back on dry land in no time!

Another Great Walk down! Only 5 more to go! (4 more for Jordan)


Check out Episode 21 – Lake Waikaremoana

    Comments ( 5 )

  • […] we were hiking the Lake Waikaromoana Great Walk, a young couple from Auckland told us about a secluded hot water beach that was accessible by boat […]

  • Amber

    Your blog is a great reference. I never even comment on blogs but yours is a different story. My soon to be husband and I are planning our honeymoon in New Zealand for December. It has been helpful to read your stories as I’m planning our itinerary/adventure. Thanks so much!

  • Amanda

    Hi Jena! We are visiting in off season (early August) and planning to do the Lake Waikaremoana great walk and are having some trouble figuring out how to get there – the regular buses from Rotorua seem to only run during peak season. Any recommendations of shuttles or private transport – do you think renting a car is our best bet? Your blog mentioned you were “dropped” – did you use a service?

    Thank you so much in advance, I agree with the previous poster that your blog has been immensely helpful!

    • Hi Amanda!

      Thanks so much! I expect in the off season there may not be shuttles running. We drove ourselves to the local campsite just before the start of the track and they drove us just the 10mins to the start so we could leave our car at the campsite which was more secure, and then they picked us up across the lake at the end of the track and back to our car.

      You should maybe try calling the local DOC office to ask what services are available, but your only option might be to rent a car to get there.

      Good luck!


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