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Lake Waikaremoana Drive

Home  »  North Island Walks  »  Te Urewera  »  Lake Waikaremoana Drive – Walk detail

This is our drive along the 237k of mostly gravel roads to Lake Waikaremoana from Rotorua. On the drive from Tuai Village the road is narrow and all dirt all the way to Murupara. It’s a great day out.

Quick Facts

        • Location: North Island NZ
        • Distance: 237 kms
        • Time needed: 8 Hours Driving
        • Difficulty: Very Easy
        • Wheelchair Access: No
        • Route: One Way
        • Elevation: 582m
        • Wet Feet: No
        • Toilets: No
        • Dogs: No
        • Mobile Coverage: No
        • Last Updated: November, 2019
  • Track Highlights

    Lots of native bush, mountain streams full of Rainbow trout. And the mighty Lake Waikaremoana

  • Track Quality


  • Hazards

    The gravel road is prone to big slips after heavy rain, expect delays of up to one day. And watch out for people driving too fast around the narrow corners.

  • Transport


  • Water

    You can pick up water at the Waikaremoana camp ground and at the Ruatahuna village store

  • Driving Instructions

    You could call this a short cut from the East to the West Coast. From Wairoa you can turn North to Gisborne or South to Napier or drive West from Wairoa to Waikaremoana, Murupara, and then onto Rotorua. The drive from Tuai Village is narrow and all dirt all the way to Murupara. If you have a mountain bike you can shoot down hill from Taupeupe Saddle to Ruatahuna, sorry I did not time the ride, but it was an exciting ride, make sure you fit new brake pads to your bike.

  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    One small shop at Lake Waikaremoana camp ground

  • Area & Track History

    Lake Waikaremoana is spread over 212,673 ha. The Urewera National Park is a 60 k drive from Wairoa. Waikaremoana is the North Island’s deepest lake at 256m, and 600m above sea level and around 2,200 years old. Lake Waikaremoana Hydro Power station, the first one to be built around 1930, includes the Kaitawa, Piripura, and Tuai power stations. As for the Urewera National Park park, there is said to be around 650 types of native plants. And not forgetting the bird life, you will see, Tui, Bellbird, Fantail, Tomtit, Kaka, Kakariki, Robin, Falcon, Rifleman, and the very friendly Morepork and the extremely rare Kiwi. As for the real exciting stuff, deer and pigs are behind every tree in the Te Urewera National Park which means you have to load up that heavy pack and walk up hill and down dale and not always on a cut track, real hunting. As for Lake Waikaremoana you can swim, canoe or power boat around the lake.

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

  • Map location of Lake Waikaremoana Drive

    Map of walk

Points of interest along the walk

In the map above, if you zoom in on the walk, you’ll see all the following track points and their location. Each point has photos along with a description about each one.

Point 1: Tuai Village

From Wairoa drive west to Lake Waikaremoana, through Frasertown and Tuai. In Tuai village you can drive around and still see the old houses built for the power station. The rest of the village has gone like the butcher shop; general store all that is left is the pub.

Point 2: Lake Waikaremoana Camp Ground

Form Tuai onwards the road is all gravel and narrow. The drive around Lake Waikaremoana is the best part of the drive. The first point to have a look at is just 5.km from Tuai at the top of the climb, the spillway. You can park right beside the control house and look down in to the spillway, plus take a short walk to the boat ramp. Just 300Mt up the road is the Onepoto caves, you will need a torch and good strong shoes. At 2km on your left there is a track down to Rosie Bay and another boat ramp. This track in very narrow, so drive slowly. 9km will see you at Waikaremoana, the very old and famous Waikaremoana hotel has disappeared, all that is left is the motor camp with its small shop and petrol pumps. 1.5km up the road is the Lake Waikaremoana Visitor Centre, this is worth a five minute stop. If you take the Aniwaniwa Rd 50Mt past the visitors center to the right, there is the Papakorito Falls, it’s about a 20m drop. It is only 1.5 km up this road but ask first to see if the road is still open, otherwise walk.

Point 3: Murupara

11km, Mokau inlet, just before the Mokau inlet is the Mokau falls. You will get a better view of the falls about 1km further on. Call in at the Mokau inlet, there is a good camping ground set up by DOC take some $$. 6km Hopuruahuni Landing. This is the last access Rd and boat ramp to Lake Waikaremoana, but not worth the drive. The best place to stop is 2.5km from Mokau at the bluffs, you can just pull over in one spot and get out of the car and look down on to Waikaremoana. I parked there in my truck so you should have no problem in your car. We were unlucky that day the clouds came down and blocked out our view, from Hopuruahine Landing to Orangihikoia stream is 6.8km, this is a good camp site with a toilet.
Now you start to climb to the top of Taupeupe Saddle 923Mt. I jumped onto my MTB and shot down to Ruatahuna Village but I forgot to time the run, sorry but I can tell you to replace the brake pads on you bike before you take off. Ruatahuna Village has a small shop and petrol but you will pay for it. This is the starting point for the fantastic walk down the Whakatane River, I take a relaxing five day’s for this walk. 6.5 Km outside of Ruatahuna Village is another good camp site, followed by another climb over a saddle then down into Te Whaiti village turnoff, 29Km. This is the turnoff to the very exciting Whirinaki Forest, plenty of walking and hunting in this area. I hunted this area when I was only 17 years old, we were living in Whakatane at the time. 49 Km should see you in Murupara. You will have no problems topping up with petrol and food here. Now you can decide to drive to Rotorua, about 2 hours or take the back road, all sealed, to Whakatane again about 2 hours. Have a good drive.

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Contact info

Kaitawa Road, Tuai 4195, New Zealand

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