IntroductionLake Waikaremoana is part of the Great Walk family. You’ll find this one more of a backcountry, off the beaten track experience. Be immersed into stunning natural wilderness and welcomed into the homeland of Ngai Tūhoe.
Te Urewera is recognised in New Zealand law as a living person. Te Urewera is spoken for and governed by a board. Care for Te Urewera, including the tracks and facilities, is carried out by Te Uru Taumatua – Ngāi Tūhoe’s operational entity.
Bookings are open for the 2022/23 season.
- Walk in Te Urewera, the home and ancestor of the Tūhoe people, the first natural feature to be recognised in New Zealand law as a legal entity in its own right, and learn the cultural and spiritual history of the area.
- Incredible views from Panekire Bluff.
- The spectacular Korokoro Falls drop off a sheer cliff amidst rainforest.
- An ancient mountain range of lakes, valleys and peaks formed by landslides and storms.
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.
Places to stay
There are four huts and five campsites on Lake Waikaremoana. These must be booked in advance.
Camping on the track is only permitted at the designated campsites.
You can stay at the nearby Waikaremoana Holiday Park before or after walking the track. It has a range of accommodation including tent sites, cabins and chalets.
Onepoto to Panekire Hut
Time: 4–6 hr
Distance: 8.8 km
This is the most strenuous part of the trip, but the views from Panekire make it 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. Be prepared for low tank water levels at times during summer.
Views from Panekire on Google Street View
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.
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. Korokoro Campsite is 200 metres past the bridge and a short distance off the main track, towards the lake shore.
Side trip: Korokoro Falls
Time: 1 hr return from Korokoro Campsite
These falls are a must-see.
Korokoro Falls on Google Street View
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.
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.
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.
Note: Whanganui Hut is closed
Whanganui Hut to Hopuruahine Landing (water taxi pick-up/drop-off point and track start/end)
Time: 2 hr
Distance: 4.2 km
From Whanganui Hut, the track contours above the lake shore before a climb up and over the ridgeline into the Huiarau Stream. The track then follows the grassy Hopuruahine River flats to reach the Hopuruahine suspension bridge.
Water taxi pickup and drop off
Water taxi pick-up and drop-off is in the near Whanganui Hut. This hut is around 300 metres away – lake level dependent.
Bookings are open for the 2022/23 season.
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.
Tūhoe wardens are stationed at major Great Walk huts during peak season.
Pay your fees before starting
Pay your fees by booking the huts and campsites before you start the track.
- Adult (18+ years): $32 per person, per night
- Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required
- Adult (18+ years): $14 per person, per night
- Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required
Discounts for Great Walks are not available online. If you belong to a group or organisation that is entitled to a discount we will need to see proof of your membership.
To receive your discount, you must email your organisation's membership card, showing your name, membership number and expiry date, to email@example.com or go to a DOC visitor centre in person. Visitor centre staff will make your booking for you and apply your discount. No booking fee will be charged.
If you make your booking online yourself, you must contact firstname.lastname@example.org or a DOC visitor centre within 48 hours of making the booking to receive your discount. Discounts cannot be retrospectively applied to bookings after this time.
What to book
Before you start your Lake Waikaremoana walk, you need to book:
- huts and campsites on the track all year round.
- transport to and from the start and end of the track – the walk is one-way with the ends of the track around 30 km apart.
If you don’t have a valid booking for your stay, you may be charged a penalty, or turned away if the hut/campsite is full.
How to book
Follow this step-by-step process to guide you through booking your Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk.
1. Decide what direction you want to walk the track in
You can go from Onepoto in the south or Hopuruahine in the north.
- Water taxi and shuttle services are available to both ends, but book early.
- If you have your own vehicle, public parking is closest at Onepoto (at the Wakairemoana Holiday Park or Te Urewera Visitor Centre at Te Kura Whenua). See parking information.
- 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.
2. Decide what huts or campsites you want to stay at.
For the direction you want to walk in, decide what huts or campsites you want to stay at.
- Location of huts and campsites on the track – huts and campsites are not always in the same location.
- Distances and walking times between huts/campsites.
- Drop off and pick up times of the water taxi.
3. Decide the date you want to stay at each hut/campsite.
4. Check availability of huts and campsites
If there is no space in one of huts or campsites, consider:
- starting your walk on a different date.
- rearranging your walk to use a different combination of huts and campsites.
- doing a guided walk.
5. Check the availability of transport on your desired dates
6. Book huts/campsites online
Bookings are required for children and 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.
You can also contact a DOC visitor centre for personal assistance. Note:
7. Book transport to and from the start and end of the track.
Terms and Conditions
Read the booking terms and conditions (scroll to the bottom to find the Terms and Conditions link) for general information, age ranges, prices, discounts, penalty rates and the alterations and cancellations policy.
Bookings that don't meet the terms and conditions will be treated as invalid and cancelled.
Waikaremoana can be approached from two directions on SH38 which runs from Waiotapu in the north to Wairoa on the East Coast. SH38 passes Te Karetu where Te Urewera Visitor Centre (Te Kura Whenua) and the Waikaremoana Holiday Park are located.
The highway is a gravel surface for about 90 km between Murupara (north of Te Karetu and Tuai (south of Te Karetu). This may be difficult for lower vehicles and 4WD/SUV is recommended.
To and from Great Walk
The Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk can be accessed from either end – Onepoto or Hopuruahine landing. Hopuruahine is about half an hour's drive from Te Karetu.
Hopurauhine road is not currently suitable for 2WD vehicles. This may impact access to Hopuruahine landing Great Walk-end car park.
The start of the track at Onepoto is approximately 20 minutes drive from Te Karetu – follow State Highway 38.
Walkers can travel to either end of the walk via water taxi. Book early.
Tūhoe offers a water taxi service to and from each end of the Great Walk, and to individual huts and campsites around the lake, out of Te Urewera Visitor Centre (Te Kura Whenua).
The water taxi service is usually available from October to April. It is not available during the winter season.
Parking can be very busy at the lake during the summer season. All parking is at the owners’ risk – do not leave valuables in your cars.
Where parking space is available:
- near the lakeside towards the Waikaremoana Holiday Park entrance (up to 10 days free parking)
- at Onepoto (at the Great Walk-end car park, and near the boat ramp)
- at Hopuruahine Landing (at the Great Walk-end car park. This car park is 2 km off the main road. Hopurauhine road is not currently suitable for 2WD vehicles. This may impact access to this car park).
There is free day-time parking available at Te Urewera Visitor Centre at Te Kura Whenua, however no multi-day parking is available. This is to make space for other manuhiri (visitors).
Make sure you are properly equipped and well prepared. Your safety is your responsibility. Know the five essential steps of the Land Safety Code.
This track is not recommended for children under age 10, because of the exposed mountainous environment and often adverse weather conditions.
Lake Waikaremoana lies between altitudes of 600 and 1200 m. The weather at Lake Waikaremoana is changeable. Cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur at any time of the year, including summer. Te Urewera is a rainforest, so tracks can become muddy.
Huts on the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk don't have gas cooking facilities, lighting or toilet paper. Remember to take a portable stove and fuel, candles and toilet paper with you. Some provisions are available at the Lake Waikaremoana Holiday Park store.
Call in at the Te Urewera Visitor Centre at Te Kura Whenua for the latest information on weather and track conditions before you leave, and fill in your itinerary in hut books as you go. Check opening hours.
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.
There are no rubbish facilities – care for nature and pack in and pack out anything you bring into Te Urewera.
Huts on the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk do not have gas cooking facilities, lighting or toilet paper. Take a portable stove and fuel, candles and toilet paper with you.
- Backpack – 40–60 litre size for multi-day hiking
- Waterproof/plastic pack liner
- Sleeping bag – 3–4 season
- First aid kit including blister treatment materials
- Survival kit including survival blanket, whistle, paper, pencil, highenergy snack food
- Safety equipment relevant to the track and time of year, for example, map, compass
- Torch/flashlight and spare batteries
- Rubbish bag
- Booking confirmation and ID
- Earplugs for communal bunkrooms
Cooking and food equipment
- Drink bottle – 1–2 litre capacity
- Eating and cooking utensils – knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup, pot/pan/billy, cleaning kit, tea towel
- Gas cooker and fuel, for example, gas canister
- Matches or lighter in waterproof container
- Toiletries, including insect repellent, sunscreen, and personal medication, for example, antihistamine for allergy to wasp stings
- Use a toilet when you see one and be prepared with a backup toilet option
- Sleeping mat
- Ground sheet
- For multi-day walking you'll need at least one set of clothes to walk in and another dry set to change into at night.
- Tramping/hiking boots or firm footwear – should be comfortable and well broken in
- Socks – wool or polypropylene
- Shorts – quick dry material
- Shirt – wool or polypropylene
- Under layers, top and bottom – wool or polypropylene
- Mid-layers – wool or polar fleece
- Raincoat – waterproof, windproof with hood
- Overtrousers – wind and waterproof
- Warm hat and gloves
- Sunhat and sunglasses
- Extra socks, underwear, shirt/lightweight jersey
- Lightweight shoes for inside the huts
You cannot buy food on the track.
Bring food that is lightweight, fast cooking and high in energy value. For example:
- Breakfast: cereal/porridge/oats, firm bread, honey or other spreads
- Lunch: cracker biscuits, cheese, salami, jam/jelly, fruit
- Dinner: instant soup, pasta or rice, dried vegetables or fruit, cheese or dehydrated (freeze-dried) meals.
You'll also need water, snacks, biscuits, muesli bars, tea or coffee, powdered fruit drinks and emergency food in case of any delays on the track.
Te Urewera is a taonga and everyone has a responsibility to care for her. All manuhiri (visitors) to Te Urewera are asked to respect Tikana of the Lake and help us all to guardians of this place.
To the Tūhoe people, Te Urewera is not just their homeland, but also the mother of their first ancestors.
The Care for Nature (Manaakitana Te Urewera) principles help visitors experience Te Urewera and the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk in a way that accords with her needs, and helps us all to build our connection to nature.
That means embracing experiences in nature that are beautiful and child-friendly, and caring for our wildlife and environment.
- Camping is only in approved camping areas and huts. This includes the lakeshore.
- There are no rubbish facilities, so pack-in/pack-out – take anything you bring in to Te Urewera out again, avoid single use plastic and don’t litter.
- All native wildlife in Te Urewera is protected. Native plants and animals must not be disturbed, destroyed or removed. The bush is a taonga, a treasure for all.
- 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.
- Hunting is by permit only.
If you have questions about how best to respect Te Urewera, call in to Te Urewera Visitor Centre at Te Kura Whenua and speak to one of the team.