New Zealand Walking Tour:
Waikaremoana Discovery Tour
Rotorua to Rotorua
4 days / 3 nights
A traverse into the wild. Explore the best of Lake Waikaremoana, Whirinaki Forest and Te Urewera on this New Zealand walking holiday.
Explore the best of Lake Waikaremoana, the Whirinaki ‘Dinosaur’ Forest Park and the Te Urewera region on this 4-day North Island guided walking holiday.
Journey deep into the North Island’s most remote and untouched wilderness area, Te Urewera, where the mountains are cloaked in mist, mysticism and primordial forest.
Walk some of the most spectacular sections of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk track and explore the world-famous Whirinaki ‘Dinosaur’ Forest, while staying in comfortable lodgings on the lakeshore.
- Join a small, fun group or bring your own crowd. Enjoy selected sections of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk track
- Carry a day pack only
- Includes: delicious, nutritious meals and trail snacks; New Zealand wines and beers, 3 star chalet accommodation with ensuite; return Rotorua transport; passionate and experienced on-trail hiking guides
Day 1 Whirinaki Conservation Park / Te Pua-ā-Tāne
Location: Lakeside Chalets
Distance: 10 km
We’ll collect you from your central Rotorua accommodation between 8.00am – 8:30am. We’ll get to know each other as we drive east, through the Kaingaroa State Forest, around the foothills of mighty Mount Tarawera and into the heart of Te Urewera. Our first stop is the Whirinaki ‘Dinosaur’ Forest, where we’ll have a very special experience hiking through New Zealand’s most pristine, giant podocarp forest. There is only 5% remaining worldwide of this type of forest and Whirinaki is one of only two remaining sites in the North Island. Relish the opportunity to spend some deep, introspective time amongst a unique tract of nature. Stop awhile to fully observe stands of towering native trees, including giant totara, kahikatea and matai. This was the site of New Zealands first environmental protest, backed by some very famous faces.
Keep an eye out for kākā (a large forest parrot) & whio (rare blue duck) along the way, as they choose to make their homes in only the cleanest ecosystems. This hiking trail skirts the moss-lined Te Whaiti-Nui-A-Toi canyon – one of the most picturesque rivers in New Zealand and a closely guarded secret.
Later, we’ll continue the incredible drive through truly remote wilderness to Lake Waikaremoana, the ‘sea of rippling waters’ where we’ll settle in to our cosy chalets with pre-dinner drinks and a grazing platter on the lake shore.
Day 2 Panekire Bluffs, Lake Waikaremoana
Location: Lakeside Chalets
Distance: 9 km
After a hearty breakfast, day two of your guided walking holiday features some of the most spectacular views from the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk Track, one of only 3 Great Walks in the North Island. A 1.5 hour steady climb upwards through mixed broadleaf podocarp forest brings us to the spine of Panekire Bluff.
From here, the trail levels off and undulates through old-growth Silver Beech ‘goblin’ forest, draped in hanging moss. We’ll enjoy an unforgettable picnic lunch on a spectacular, wide sandstone rock bluff with awe inspiring views over Lake Waikaremoana and the forest-clad mountains of Te Urewera, New Zealand.
Your guides make this incredible hike even more memorable by sharing local stories and legends and bringing the extraordinary cultural, social and geological history of Te Urewera to life. Te Urewera is an extremely important cultural and geographical asset to the North Island. It is now considered a legal personhood and is a world-leading example of the indigenous world view in practice.
Before dinner, we’ll get together on the verandah to toast a fabulous day with a cold glass of crisp New Zealand wine or beer and linger over a grazing platter of fresh, seasonal fruits, cheeses and dips. We’ll sit back and enjoy each others company over another generous two-course, Kiwi-style meal to finish our evening off nicely.
Day 3 Lake Waikareiti
Location: Lakeside Chalets
Distance: 4 to 6 km
After a hearty breakfast, we’ll take a walk through a magnificent, ancient red and silver beech forest up to the pristine Lake Waikareiti, which lies a further 300 metres in elevation above Lake Waikaremoana. Reached only by walking track, this lake is free of introduced aquatic plants and is inaccessible to motorised boats, therefore has outstanding water clarity and is blissfully peaceful! If conditions allow, we’ll take a dip (optional) in the crystal-clear, fresh water or spend some time at the day shelter soaking up the peaceful surroundings. Lake Waikareiti is home to 6 islets, the largest of which contains another lake – yup, that’s a lake on an island on a lake, on an island!
Listen out for more kākā and kākāriki (yellow-crowned rainforest parakeet), be surrounded by bold toutouwai/North Island robin and tiny, energetic titipounamu/riflemen. Take the time to stop and see the sights and sounds of abundance and maybe glimpse a rare native mistletoe clinging to old growth native forest. This time is yours to enjoy. Later, we’ll return to Lake Waikaremoana via Lake Kaitawa near Tuai, with a 1.5 hour walk through 100-year-old tree ferns to a dazzlingly clear, fresh-water spring that seeps through the sandstone rocks, emerging pure. We’ll begin at the Lake Kaitawa Power Station, an art-deco building constructed in 1947 and walk through regenerating podocarp forest of matai, rimu, tawa and kahikatea.
Day 4 Wild Waterfalls and Whistling Ducks, Lake Waikaremoana
This morning, we’ll pack up our kit and bid fond farewell to our lakeside accommodation.
A visit to Lake Waikaremoana wouldn’t be complete without a short, 60 minute stroll to the beautiful Aniwaniwa Falls, which means ‘Rainbow’ and Papakorito Falls, a wide, thunderous explosion of water falling down a smooth, sloping rock wall. From two lookout points, we’ll be able to view the falls from an upper and lower perspective and give you a chance to spot the rare fleshy-lipped whistling duck or whio bobbing about on the river-side.
We’ll make a quick stop at Mokau Landing for a picnic lunch while we enjoy views of the impressive Panekire Bluff to reflect on our achievements over the past 4 days. Then, we say a fond farewell to Te Urewera and make our way back to civilisation, enjoying a quick dip in a natural hot spring on the outskirts of Rotorua, a perfect way to finish off a fantastic walking holiday in New Zealand’s last, true wilderness area. We’ll return you safely to your accommodation in Rotorua between 5 – 6pm to meet your onward travel connections.
Please note this itinerary may be modified. We like to keep the trip flexible to make the most of weather conditions, & tailor the trip to suit the group. To maximise your experience and minimise drive times we may shuttle the vehicle, so some sections of trail may be walked without a guide. We’ll ensure you are well-prepared for this.
During the Waikaremoana Discovery Tour we stay in peaceful, lakeside chalets with great views over Lake Waikaremoana. The chalets are simple but comfortable, with hot showers, good beds and linen, heat pumps and ensuite bathrooms.
Rooms are twin share or double. Single rooms are available on request.
There are no drying rooms available but plenty of wide, covered verandahs for drying wet gear
Accommodation is based on a twin-share arrangement; if you’d rather have a private room, a single supplement fee of $300 NZD applies (this is for the whole trip, not $300 each night)
The lodge has power outlets next to all beds so CPAP machines are easily accommodated
Sorry, the use of drones is not permitted
Generous, nutritious meals full of fresh, local produce; packed picnic lunches with the best sandwiches you’ve ever eaten, trail snacks & chocolate; fresh fruit, hot & cold drinks
Complimentary glass of crisp Kiwi wine or craft beer per person, each evening.
We are happy to accommodate guests with specialty diets, we appreciate as much advance notice as possible. If we don’t receive adequate advanced notice, we may not be able to fully cater for dietary needs as we operate in an extremely isolated environment and it is not always possible to access specialty foods. Please ensure you advise us as early as possible if you have dietary requirements.
You are welcome to bring your own alcohol if you wish; we ask that you drink responsibly. Alcohol is not available for purchase
Safety and Risk Management
To ensure maximum safety for all, our guides are certified first aiders and fully qualified drivers. Tuatara Tours operate under a Safety and Risk Management Plan which is regularly audited and approved by a qualified and independent auditor.