Lake Waikaremoana is set in a remote region of natural, rugged beauty, ancient trees, giant podocarps, swirling mists and waterfalls. A spiritual place with a rich history.
Children of the Mist, a book written by Elsdon Best (first published in 1925), shares the history and traditions of the local Tuhoe people. Kayaking on the lake in the misty rain and fog over four days, the book title seemed wholly appropriate.
In 2014 as part of the Treaty of Waitangi Settlements, Te Urewera National Park and Lake Waikaremoana became a legal entity, and is now simply known as Te Urewera, belonging to all people with Tuhoe (the local Iwi) named as guardians.
One of New Zealand's Great Walks, the 46km track around the shoreline of the lake usually takes 4 - 5 days, although thanks to a water taxi service you can choose to walk just one or two sections if you prefer. The well-maintained track can be walked in either direction, depending on whether you want to start or end with the challenging Panekire Bluffs.
On day one you have energy to burn but your pack will be bulging with food; on the last day you might be tiring but your pack will be lighter having munched through several days' worth of food. At 1100m it is a steep hike but the views from the top are magnificent. Start at Onepoto Bay if you want to tackle Panekire on day one, otherwise start at Hopuruahine Landing. There are five huts and five campsites along the way, all must be booked in advance.
In addition to the walking track, the lake is a popular fishing destination. Beneath the lake lies a petrified forest and when the water is calm you can see tree trunks well below the surface. Don't miss the Onepoto Caves, two hours return, be sure to take a torch.
It's quite an adventure just getting here over the winding, narrow road with long stretches of gravel, so having made the effort it's worth staying a few days. Lake Waikaremoana Holiday Park situated on the shores of the lake have tent and powered sites, cabins, bunk rooms and self-contained units, details HERE
There are a number of shorter walks in the area through beautiful goblin like forests and bush, including the popular track to Lake Waikareiti.
For a more detailed description of the track and huts click HERE.
Most people walk independently however fully guided tours are offered by Ahurei Adventures
After booking the huts, I sustained a knee injury, so we kayaked around the lake meeting up with friends, who walked the track, at the huts each night.