17 Stunning Lake Waikaremoana Walks
Walks at Lake Waikaremoana you can’t miss!
You’ve made it to the Te Urewera Rainforest on the shores of Lake Waikaremoana! That’s awesome! For those backpackers who have made it off the beaten track to get to Lake Waikaremoana will be rewarded with views of sparkling lakes, dramatic rock bluffs, magnificent forest and a ton of birdlife. As well as doing the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk, there are loads of Lake Waikaremoana walks that range from a couple of minutes to eight hours. Hiking is the best way to experience the beauty of Lake Waikaremoana.
Take a look at the walks at Lake Waikaremoana listed below and make sure you prepare for them! Get some extra tips from our How to Choose a Good Pair of Hiking Boots guide and How to Prepare for a Great Walk in New Zealand. For more things to do in the area, see Te Urewera – Guide for Backpackers.
1. Onepoto Caves (2 hours return)
Explore caves ranging from small cavities to overhangs to tunnels and deep recesses on the Onepoto Caves Track. Although the track is a two-hour return, you could spend ages scrambling through these awesome rock formations. Take a torch and look out for cave weta – a large and harmless native insect. If you are doing the loop, you will have to return partway down the roadside.
Location: The Onepoto caves are just off State Highway 38 on the way toward Wairoa, near the small settlement of Onepoto. The Track is clearly signposted off the road. The track starts from the spillway car park and orange markers show the main track and from the lake view car park, blue markers indicate the main track.
2. Lou’s Lookout (45 minutes return)
Who doesn’t love a picture-perfect view? Lou’s Lookout rises through rock bluffs and huge boulders to a platform overlooking the lake. The track takes you through a forest that now lies on a huge landslide that occurred 2,200 years ago.
Location: About 9km from the visitor centre on State Highway 38 toward Wairoa. The track is well-signposted on the side of the road that goes uphill.
3. Old Maori Trail (2 hours one way)
Visit the beautiful Lake Kaitawa on this trail through bush and grassy clearings. The trail is named after the tribes who used to use the trail to get to Lake Kaitawa.
Location: Starts opposite Rosie Bay just off State Highway 38 toward Wairoa.
4. Lake Kiriopukae (45 minutes return)
This is the perfect option for those who love seeing wildlife, as Lake Kiriopukae is home to a number of water birds like herons, stilts and ducks. Walk in this lowland wetland area with a couple of picturesque lakes, which form one lake during the wet season.
Location: Down the Onepoto Road, about 10.3km from the visitor centre. This road also leads to the start of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk.
5. Black Beech track (30 minutes one way)
This walk offers good views over Home Bay and beyond while walking alongside specimens of black beech trees. The walk is a great option to get between the Lake Waikaremoana Holiday Park and Aniwaniwa.
Location: The track starts from across the road from the Lake Waikaremoana Holiday Park entrance.
6. Hinerau Track (30 minutes one way)
Check out some stunning viewpoints of the Aniwaniwa River and waterfalls on this track translated as “rainbow”.
Location: Start across the road from Aniwaniwa Road.
7. Aniwaniwa Falls Track (30 minutes one way)
Everyone loves a good waterfall. Get a gorgeous view of the Aniwaniwa Falls from across the river by taking the Aniwaniwa Falls Track.
Location: Starts over the Aniwaniwa Stream Bridge.
8. Papakorito Falls (2 minutes walk one way)
It’s hardly a “walk” but it’s a good feature to see nevertheless! Enjoy the sight of the 20m Papakorito Falls!
Location: Drive or walk 2km up Aniwaniwa Road to Papakorito Falls.
9. Aniwaniwa Valley track (6 hours return)
The Aniwaniwa Valley Track to the Ward’s Hut site gives a great insight into the type of vegetation found in the Te Urewera Rainforest. The track follows an old coach road that once went all the way to Gisborne. However, the track is famous for getting swampy so be prepared with appropriate footwear (follow our tips on 10 Tips for Picking the Perfect Hiking Boots for New Zealand).
Location: Start from Papakorito Falls up the Aniwaniwa Road.
10. Lake Waikareiti (2 hours return)
To experience the tranquillity and beauty of Lake Waikareiti is a must-do of the Lake Waikaremoana walks. There is shelter at the top of the track at the lake’s edge along with stunning views. You’re likely to hear and spot many native New Zealand bird species too.
Location: Start just over the Aniwaniwa Stream Road Bridge.
11. Sandy Bay (8 hours return)
Hike to the marvellous Sandy Bay on the shores of Lake Waikareiti. Follow the lakeshore to the northern end of the lake to the Sandy Bay Hut, which sits on the white sandy shores of the lake. You can book a night in the hut too.
Location: Starts from the end of the Lake Waikareiti Track (see above).
12. Ruapani Circuit (6 hours loop)
Another option for the Lake Waikareiti area is to take the Ruapani Circuit, which comes off the Lake Waikareiti Track and Sandy Bay Track. Walk through swampy water basins and wetland where the forest is simply stunning.
Location: Start and end from the beginning of the Lake Waikareiti Track, just over the Aniwaniwa Stream Road Bridge.
13. Nga Whanau-a-puapani Tarns Track (4 hours return)
Get some high ground and follow the ridge through forests to some small swampy ponds called “the tarns”. This track is also known as the Mokau Tarns Track.
Location: Start from Tauwhare Falls and Mokau Falls off State Highway 38 toward Rotorua.
14. Hinau Track (20 minutes one way) and Ngamoko Track (2h30mins one way)
For a full-day mission, take the Hinau Track from the Lake Waikaremoana Holiday Park, which climbs an old road and comes out above the holiday park and the start of the Ngamoko Track. From the start of the Ngamoko Track, walk 20 minutes to a giant rata tree which is 1,000+ years old. You can then continue steeply through dense forest to the summit offering glorious views of Lake Waikaremoana.
Location: Hinau Track starts from beside the Holiday Park shop. Otherwise, if you want to start straight from the Ngamoko Track, it’s just off the State Highway 38 road toward Wairoa.
15. Tawa Track (30 minutes one way)
This track is an alternative route off the Ngamoko Track to the Rata Tree. It’s a really awesome option when returning back from the Rata Tree.
Location: Start from the Ngamoko Track (see above).
16. Ngamoko-Kaitawa Track (5 hours one way)
To extend the Ngamoko Track (see above) turn off to the right near the summit to descend through forest to Lake Kaitawa where you will then need to get transport from the end of the track.
Location: Starts from the Ngamoko Track (see above).
17. Lake waikaremoana Great Walk (3-4 days one way)
To encapsulate the full Te Urewera Rainforest and Lake Waikaremoana views in one multi-day hike, there is the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk. On of the 9 Great Walks of New Zealand, this walk is a wilderness experience which allows you to stay in the various Department of Conservation huts and campsites. Find out more in Guide to the 9 Great Walks of New Zealand.
Location: Start from Onepoto Road. Book transport, either shuttle or water taxi, from the Te Urewera Visitor Centre.
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