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Waikaremoana Discovery Tour

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
Tour Type

Walking Tour

Duration

4 days / 3 nights

Fitness

Price

NZ$1,850

Book now for Next Season!

  • Friday 21 October 2022
  • Friday 4 November 2022
  • Friday 18 November 2022
  • Friday 2 December 2022
  • Friday 16 December 2022
  • Friday 13 January 2023
  • Friday 27 January 2023
  • Friday 10 February 2023 - FULL
  • Friday 24 February 2023
  • Friday 10 March 2023
  • Friday 24 March 2023
  • Monday 3 April 2023
  • Tuesday 18 April 2023

Tour Itinerary

Price: NZ$1,850

Day 1

Whirinaki Conservation Park / Te Pua-ā-Tāne

10 km

Whirinaki Conservation Park / Te Pua-ā-Tāne

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. We’ll raise a glass and toast our arrival over a delicious, 2-course evening meal prepared by your talented guides. 

  • Accommodation: Waikaremoana Holiday Park 
  • Meals included: Lunch & Dinner 
  • Hiking time: 4 hours or 8 – 10 kms (5 – 6 miles) 
  • Driving time: 4 hours 
Day 2

Panekire Bluffs, Lake Waikaremoana

9 km

Lake Waikaremoana

This morning we’ll begin our invigorating hike up the spectacular Panekire Bluffs that overlook Lake Waikaremoana.

This section is part of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk track, one of only 3 Great Walks in the North Island. As we climb higher, we’ll see the lush podocarp forest change into cloud forest with trees covered in fascinating hanging moss. We’ll reach a wide, flat lookout, where we are greeted with astounding views over Lake Waikaremoana and the endless forest-clad mountains of Te Urewera National Park. What a place for a picnic! 

If the legs are still feeling fresh, there’s an option to continue hiking for a further 2 hours, over gently undulating terrain, to reach the highest point of the Great Walk track to get views over not only the Lake, but out to the Pacific Coast, and even Mt Ruapehu on a clear day. 

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 in the park dining room to finish our evening off nicely. 

  • Accommodation: Waikaremoana Holiday Park 
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
  • Hiking time: 3 – 6 hours or 9 kms (6 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: 500 metres 
  • Driving time: 30 mins
Day 3

Lake Waikareiti

6 km

Lake Waikareiti

After a hearty cooked 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 where there’s an option to walk to a dazzling clear fresh-water spring, or a hike through fern forest to explore the unusual Onepoto Caves, a network of shallow, dry caves set into the rocky bluff, formed by the colossal landslide that created Lake Waikaremoana. 

  • Accommodation: Waikaremoana Holiday Park 
  • Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
  • Hiking time: 3 – 5 hours or 4 – 6 kms (3 – 4 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: 300 metres 
  • Driving time: 15 mins 
Day 4

Forest Giants and Waterfalls, Lake Waikaremoana

8.8km

Lake Waikaremoana

This morning, we’ll take in a stunning 1.5 – 2 hour loop trail traversing a secluded corner of the lake through gorgeous tawa and ancient podocarp tree forest.

Here, we’ll pay our respects to a 1,200 year old native rata tree, the oldest known rata tree in existence! There is nothing quite like this quality of forest anywhere else in the North Island. 

A visit to Waikaremoana wouldn’t be complete without a short, 45 minute stroll to beautiful Aniwaniwa Falls, which means ‘Rainbow.’ 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 out back to civilisation, stopping for a soak in a natural hot spring under a canopy of native trees. We’ll cap things off with the pop of a bottle of bubbly, 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. 

  • Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch 
  • Hiking time: 3 – 4 hours or 5 kms (3 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: 255 metres 
  • Driving time: 4 hours 

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. 

What's included?

Accommodation

The beautifully situated Waikaremoana Holiday Park is nestled right on the lakeshore, just a stones throw from Te Karetu/Home Bay. There are plenty of sunny, private decks to relax on, with charming interior decor and lake views, plus large trees for shade. We have double and twin chalets with ensuite bathroom and kitchenette facilities. Single supplement is available. Dinner and breakfast are served in the park dining room. All meals, snacks and nibbles are included. The Holiday Park has an onsite store with basic supplies, EFTPOS facilities, a coffee machine and onsite coin-operated laundry and drying room. 

Wi-fi is available just a short stroll away at Te Kura Whenua / Tuhoe Visitors Centre. There are no televisions allowing us a truly peaceful retreat. A world-class trout fishing location, Lake Waikaremoana is a favourite spot for fisherfolk of all ages and stages. 

  • There are no drying rooms available but plenty of wide, covered verandahs for drying wet gear
  • Specialty diets; we can cater for a wide range of food allergies and specialty diets with sufficient advance notice. Please let us know at the time of booking if you have specific dietary needs and we’ll make sure you’re well taken care of!
  • Accommodation is based on a twin-share arrangement; if you’d rather have a private room, a single supplement fee of $200 NZD applies (this is for the whole trip, not $200 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

Food

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

Complimentary Hiking Gear Hireage

We have hiking equipment available for your use at no extra cost. We have good quality raincoats in small, medium, large, extra large and double extra large sizing. These are long in the body, with long sleeves and a hood. Our day packs are 40 litre, soft frame hiking back packs, and our pairs of walking poles are light, carbon fibre with cushioned hand grips and wrist straps. If you’d like to borrow any gear, please let us know before departure and we’ll have it ready for you on Day One. You can either send us an email to ask, or just pop in your request into your pre-departure form. 

  • Non-walkers are more than welcome to join us! There are plenty of activities to be done that don’t involve walking, please enquire with our friendly reservations team for more information

An experienced and fully qualified guide

All transport

Access and Concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation

NZ Goods and Service Tax (GST)

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.

*This tour is operated in conjunction with another operator.

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