Lake Waikaremoana, Hopuruahine, Great Walk, Maraunui, campsite, Whanganui hut, tapuaenui campsite, Marauiti hut, Marauiti bay, Whakaneke spur, Maraunui bay, Waikaremoana, Waiopaoa hut, Waiopoao campsite, Korokoro falls, KoroKoro campsite, Panekire hut, Panekire bluff, Goblin forest, Onepoto Bay, Waikaremoana water taxi, Bald knob
Lake Waikaremoana & Korokoro Falls
There is absolutely way too much to describe here without writing a small novel, so I'll keep it as brief as I can for 4 days worth of tramping. Everywhere you look the views are stunning especially more so, if you are lucky to catch perfect weather like we enjoyed. This was an awesome experience and we thoroughly recommend getting out there and doing it.
We start out from the Lake Waikaremoana Motor Camp by catching the 9am water taxi for about 20 minutes to Hopuruahine. We wade to shore, shoe up and head left. This being one of NZ's Great Walk's, as you would expect is well signposted and besides that, there is only one real direction to go, to the other end. The signage times are measured in hours in between huts and campsites. We found that the times mentioned were pretty spot on and designed for the majority of multi day trampers carrying full packs at a slightly slower speed than day tramping.
For our first day, our destination was the Maraunui Campsite, which was 7 hours away. Being a walk along the lake, yep, there are bountiful beautiful lake views from many different perspectives. The colours of the lake itself vary from a rich deep blue, to a majestic emerald green in parts. Across the lake there is the astounding view of the dominant Bluff amongst the surrounding bush. There is plenty of birdlife around us too. This first day, the track was fairly easy going. we crossed cool swing bridges, passed many beautiful secluded bays and stopped frequently for a refreshing swim and a cool down. There were a couple of small inclines and declines when we passed over small peninsulas of private land, but mostly these gradients were user friendly. We passed the quaint Whanganui Hut, then the peaceful Tapuaenui Campsite, the impressive Waiharuru Hut & Campsite. After a couple more hours passing the Marauiti Hut in Marauiti Bay, meaning that we had another 40 minutes up and over the peninsula of Whakaneke Spur. Finally reaching Maraunui Bay we pass the private DoC staff hut before reaching our perfect campsite. Which was in a clearing surrounded by waist high reeds with it's own private beach within the gobsmackingly beautiful bay.
The bay was inhabited by many graceful black swans and directly opposite was the imposing Bluff which changed colours with the sunset (& rise). The first thing we did was strip down & emerse ourselves in the lake. as for the facilities, we had a long drop, inhabited by a multitute of massive blowflies, a shelter with a bench with a broken pump action tap, which still worked at a push and luckily a water tank behind with another tap that worked just fine. We had all we needed, well, except for what we wouldn't give for a cold beer. Something else we discovered this campsite had at night, besides the breathtaking abundance of stars, was some pretty massive possums, so make sure any food is securely stowed away. The next morning we enjoyed a magical dawn down by the mist covered lake, spell bound, observing the swans going through their morning rituals. The Bluff also looked brilliant as it changed various shades of pink with the sunrise.
For Day Two our destination was Waiopaoa Hut & Campsite with a detour to Korokoro Falls. From Maraunui, the sign to Korokoro Campsite stated 2 1/2 hours. With many swims, and the occasional rest stop and to soak in our surroundings we took a tad longer. We found the first couple of hours for this day the track was a tad more elevated, with more inclines and offered many great views, there were also parts when we were in the bush away from the lake. After passing the Korokoro campsite & just after the swingbridge we came to the sign for the Korokoro Falls which stated 30 minutes. This time we reckon was for those without packs. As we planned on lunch (of a nice veggie curry) by the falls, we brought our packs, so it was probably more like 45 minutes or so for us each way. There was one stream crossing which had a rope across which was a touch more challenging with packs.
The Falls are absolutely stunning. There is a great viewpoint above where we stopped for our well needed lunch to refuel our lethargic bodies. The Korokoro Falls were also very chilly, more than I anticipated, but very refreshing all the same. There is a water hole below for a swim and there are rocks below the falls where you can walk on to get a bracing, very high pressured shower. The rocks also allow you to walk right behind the falls too, adding to the amazing experience. From the Korokoro Falls the signage stated 1 1/2 hours to the Waiopaoa Hut. From here the track was very level and pretty much ran alongside the lake. About 6 1/2 hours from starting out that day we reached the Waiopaoa Hut & Campsite. Again we had yet another well needed swim to cool down again before pitching our tents lakeside by the mouth of the stream. We found our insect repellant of only slight relief from the biting sandflies here. This site also had a nice beach and a pretty relaxing atmosphere (with the exception of the couple of hours when some redneck hunters with their woodstock stopped by temporarily).
For day Three we were up bright and early as today was Bluff Day and we wanted to get a start before the heat of the day. We were finally going to climb the Bluff which had been such a prominant part of our scenery and was waiting for us. For Day Three our destination was Panekire Hut. The track started out as it meant to go on, upwards. This was also our first day of no lake and the track heads into the bush away from the lake. The bush was dense and deep green. Amongst heaps of really cool mossy trees there was a noticle abundance of crown ferns. There were also plenty of tree roots underfoot really giving you that dense bush experience, but you also have to keep an eye on your footing as well. In a couple of parts where the track was against the rock, it got a tad steep and there were a couple of stairways and wooden walkways to assist. I'm not usually a fan of man made steps, but this time DoC had them in the right place and didn't over do it, keeping the experience as natural as possible. From this point we had really gained a fair bit of height, the track became less steep and the bush took on an entire different entity of the Goblin Forest. All the trees were covered in thick hanging deep green moss giving the bush the most amazing atmosphere. Often I had to stop and look up and around me to take this dreamlike fantasy forest surrounding us.
After about 4 hours, the clearing, the Panekire Hut and the Trig came into sight. This was a pretty impressive hut with some pretty decent views over the lake. It was quite a feeling to look down upon the beauty that we had been walking amongst. After the steady climb upwards for 4 hours, besides a cold beer, we really missed the ability to be able to just jump into the lake to cool off. We made do with a cold flannel bath instead. After lunch & stowing our packs away in the sardine shelf bunkroom (as there is no campsite up here), we explored. About 3 minutes further down the track we found an even better view point of the lake from the stairs & platforms around the rocks. Throughout the day more & more people arrived from different directions & we discovered that this is a fairly busy and sociable hut. As you would anticipate, there were some pretty cool stars to be seen from here too.
On Day Four we were up before sunrise and we went to the same viewpoint as the previous night to check out the colours of the lake. This was well worth it. Also to our delight we watched the ruby red sunrise through the deep green Goblin Forest - this was absolute magic. Afterwards, it was a quick & easy getway as we don't mess about with breakfast and we didn't have tents to pack up. Our destination today was Onepoto Bay, our pick up point for the water taxi. This day surrendered some of the most spectacular views of Lake Waikaremoana, the Bluff, and the hills and surrounding bush of the Ureweras.
One of the best view points of the day was up an unmarked track opposite a clearing looking over farmland in the opposite direction of the lake. Up this track a minute or two later you are greeted by the amazing view from a point known as Bald Knob where you can stand on rocks precariously jutting out over the lake. As for the track, it undulated for a few hours through plenty more mossy trees and offered a multitude of impressive view points. It was also quite a sight looking back onto the Bluff to see where we had traversed. After the undulation, for about the last hour and a half it went steadily down, fairly steep in parts. we were so pleased we went anticlockwise. After about 4 1/2 hours we arrived at the welcome sight of the lake. We gladly took off our packs, stripped down and went for a very well needed swim. we had plenty of time to chill out, cook lunch & wash up in time for our 2pm pick up.
Total tramping time, about 22 hours.
Level of Difficulty
Easy to Moderate
22 Hours - over 4 days (Summer 2013)