Tag Archives: great walks

Lake Waikaremoana


Walking options

Lake Waikaremoana can be walked either from Onepoto in the south or Hopuruahine in the north. It’s not a circuit track and is described here from Onepoto.

For a 3 night / 4 day trip:

  • Day 1 – Onepoto to Panekire Hut
  • Day 2 – Panekire Hut to Waiopaoa Hut
  • Day 3 – Waiopaoa Hut to Marauiti Hut
  • Day 4 – Marauiti Hut to Hopuruahine

Guided options are available. Find commercial operators that provide services for Lake Waikaremoana

Plays to stay

Panekiri Bluff, Lake Waikaremoana. Photo: Chris Jenkins.
Panekire Bluff, Lake Waikaremoana

There are five huts and five campsites on Lake Waikaremoana. These must be booked in advance.

Camping on the track is only permitted at the designated campsites.

Onepoto to Panekire Hut

Time: 5 hr
Distance: 8.8 km

This is the most strenuous part of the trip, but the views from Panekire make it well worthwhile.

The track starts from the Onepoto Shelter through the former Armed Constabulary Redoubt and climbs steadily up to the top of Panekire Bluff. It then follows the undulating ridgeline before reaching Puketapu Trig (1180 metres) and onto Panekire Hut. Please be prepared for low tank water levels at times during summer.

Panekire Hut.

Panekire Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 36 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings required

Panekire Hut to Waiopaoa Hut and Campsite

Time: 3 – 4 hr
Distance: 7.6 km

From Panekire Hut, the track heads south-west down the range to the top of the Panekire descent. From here the track drops steeply off the range into rolling valleys of beech, podocarp and kamahi forest and the lake.

At the mouth of the Waiopaoa inlet is Waiopaoa Hut. The Waiopaoa Campsite is nearby.

Waiopaoa Hut

Waiopaoa Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 30 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings required

Waiopaoa Hut to Korokoro Campsite

Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 3.6 km

Head up the Waiopaoa Stream a short distance before crossing grassy flats and heading through kanuka forest on the lake shore. Just before the Korokoro suspension bridge there is a turn-off to Korokoro Falls.

The waterfalls are a 30 minute walk up this side track, and are a must-see. Korokoro Campsite is 200 metres past the bridge and a short distance off the main track, towards the lake shore.

Korokoro Campsite to Maraunui Campsite

Time: 2 hr 30 min
Distance: 6.8 km

The track, while undulating, weaves its way through and up and over a number of small ridges, through young rimu wooded areas and along the lake edge. A short track off the main track leads to the Maraunui Campsite.

Maraunui Campsite to Marauiti Hut

Time: 30 min
Distance: 1.7 km

A brief climb over Whakaneke Ridge takes you to Marauiti Hut. This is great spot to stop for the night – at dusk you can go for a walk to the edge of the Puketukutuku Peninsula where you may hear the call of the kiwi.

Marauiti Hut.

Marauiti Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 26 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings required

Marauiti Hut to Waiharuru Hut and Campsite

Time: 2 hr
Distance: 6.2 km

After crossing the bridge over the stream running into Marauiti Bay the track crosses a saddle to rejoin the shore at Te Totara Bay. The track then stays close to the shore to Waiharuru Hut and Waiharuru Campsite.

Waiharuru Hut.

Waiharuru Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 40 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings required

Waiharuru Hut and Campsite to Tapuaenui Campsite

Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 2.1 km

The track runs parallel to the lakeshore before rising over the neck of the Puketukutuku Peninsula, then down to the Tapuaenui Campsite on the Whanganui arm of the lake.

Tapuaenui Campsite to Whanganui Hut

Time: 1 hr
Distance: 3.2 km

From here the track follows the shore to Whanganui Hut  in a clearing alongside the Whanganui Stream.

Whanganui Hut.

Whanganui Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 18 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings required

Whanganui Hut to water taxi pick-up/drop-off point and track start/end

Time: 2 hr
Distance: 2.7 km

From Whanganui Hut, the track reaches the water taxi pick-up/drop-off point after approximately 45 minutes. The track then follows the grassy Hopuruahine River flats to reach the Hopuruahine suspension bridge and track end.

Watch a video of Lake Waikaremoana


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Published: February 25, 2014 | Comments: 0

Tongariro Northern Circuit


You can walk the track in either direction, although there is less climbing if you walk from Mangatepopo (1120 m) to Ketetahi (760 m). Shuttle buses operate for walking in this direction, with services to Mangatepopo in the morning and back from Ketetahi in the afternoon. Allow an extra hour to walk the track in reverse from Ketetahi to Mangatepopo.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing profile.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing profile

Walking time depends on your pace, the weather conditions, and how often you stop for breaks and sightseeing. Times given for each track section are approximate. Allow longer in winter conditions.

Ngauruhoe viewed from the Mangatepopo valley.
The Mangatepopo Valley

Mangatepopo Valley to Soda Springs

Time: 1 – 1 hr 30 min

Beginning at the Mangatepopo Road parking area (7 kilometres off of SH47), the track makes its way up the Mangatepopo Valley. The Mangatepopo hut and campsite is along a short side track 20 minutes from the parking area. Continuing at a gentle gradient the main track climbs alongside a stream and around the edges of old lava flows.

It is generally believed that the Mangatepopo Valley was glacially carved out during the last ice age and subsequently partially in-filled by lava flows from Ngauruhoe.

Water in Mangatepopo Stream is not suitable for drinking – it contains significant levels of dissolved minerals from the volcanic rock the water passes through on the way to the surface.

Note the different colours on the lava flows as you walk up the valley. The surface colour of younger lava is darker and absorbs much of the sun’s heat – this is a harsh environment for plants to grow and the reason why the youngest flows only have a few plants, lichens and moss. The older flows have progressively more species and large plants, which take advantage of the slow build up of precious soil. The vegetation has also been modified by fire and farming.

Soda Springs.
Soda Springs

Side trip: Soda Springs

Time: 15 min return 

Near the head of the Mangatepopo Valley a short sidetrack leads to the cold water Soda Springs, which seep to the surface in a boggy area at the head of the stream. The springs are an oasis for the moisture loving yellow buttercups (Ranunculus insignis).

The rocks at and below the springs are coloured golden by iron oxide, from the breakdown of volcanic ash in the bog. The water is slightly charged with dissolved gases and this effervescent quality inspired the name.

Near the head of the valley a short side track leads to Soda Springs. The springs are an oasis for the moisture loving yellow buttercups and white foxgloves.

Soda Springs to South Crater

Time: 1 hr

The track climbs steadily, gaining 340 m from Soda Springs to South Crater. You cross over two lava flows from eruptions in 1870 and two pyroclastic flows from 1975. On a clear day there are magnificent views from this section of track, as far as Mount Taranaki on the west coast.

At the top of the climb the Tongariro Alpine Crossing continues east across South Crater. A sign indicates access to Ngauruhoe summit for keen and fit walkers!

Side trip: Mount Ngauruhoe summit (2287 m)

Ngauruhoe from South Crater.
Ngauruhoe from South Crater

Time: 3 hr  return from South Crater, 6 – 7 hr return from Mangatepopo parking area
Distance: 6 km return from South Crater, 19 km return from Mangatepopo parking area

Clear visibility and no strong wind is required to safely climb Mount Ngauruhoe. You also need good fitness – the volcano is steep, and the surface is mainly loose rock and stones (scree). The summit climb is not marked or formed.

South Crater to Red Crater

Time: 45 min – 1 hr

Follow the poled route across South Crater to a ridge leading up Red Crater. South Crater is not a real crater but a basin that may have been glacially carved, and has since filled with sediment from the surrounding ridges. An explosion pit in the southeast part of the crater formed around 14,000 years ago. The lava seen from Ngauruhoe dates back to the 1870 eruption.

As you walk up the ridge to Red Crater you can smell sulphur, evidence that Red Crater is still active. Enjoy the spectacular view to the east over the Kaimanawa Forest Park and Desert Road.

Looking into Red Crater notice the unusual formation within, known as a ‘dike’. This feature was formed as molten magma moved to the surface through a vertical channel in the crater wall. Having solidified at its outer surface, the dike was later left partially hollow when the magma drained from below. Being more resistant than the surrounding scoria, erosion by wind and rain has now left this structure exposed.

The red colour is from high temperature oxidation of iron in the rock. You can see old lava flows from Red Crater extending into Oturere Valley, South and Central Craters.

From near the top of Red Crater you can take a side trip along a poled route to the summit of Mount Tongariro.

Tongariro summit route.
Tongariro summit route

Side trip: Mount Tongariro summit (1967 m)

Time: 1 – 2 hr return from near the top of Red Crater

Clear visibility and no strong wind is required to safely climb Mount Tongariro. From Red Crater follow a poled route to the summit of Tongariro. The route is along an undulating rocky ridge, gaining less than 100 m in altitude.

Along the way you can see interesting volcanic rock formations, and fantastic views of the mountains and landscape – including Mount Ruapehu from the Tongariro summit itself.

Red Crater to Emerald Lakes

Lower Emerald Lake and Red Crater.
Lower Emerald Lake and Red Crater

Time: 10 – 20 min

The summit of Red Crater (1886 m) is the highest point on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. From here the track descends steeply to Emerald Lakes and you can see across to the Blue Lake past the Central Crater.

The Emerald Lakes’ brilliant colour is caused by minerals leaching from the adjoining thermal area. You can see thermal steaming around the Red Crater and Emerald Lakes.

The Maori name for the lakes is Ngarotopounamu meaning greenstone-hued lakes. The water is cold and acidic, and they freeze in winter.

Take care on the steep descent on loose stony terrain (scree).

The next two sections of the track go through the active volcanic zone, near Te Maari craters – the site of the 2012 volcanic eruptions. Observe the warning signs, and keep your stops to a minimum. Know about the volcanic risks and what to do in an eruption.

Blue Lake (Te Wai-whakaata-o-te-Rangihiroa).
Blue Lake(Te Wai-whakaata-o-te-Rangihiroa)

Emerald Lakes to Ketetahi shelter

Time: 1 hr – 1 hr 30 min

The Tongariro Northern Circuit Great Walk to Oturere Hut branches off to the right at the lowest lake, while the Tongariro Alpine Crossing continues over Central Crater, a drainage basic rather than a true crater.

After a short climb out of Central Crater you can see Te Wai-whakaata-o-te-Rangihiroa / Blue Lake – this translates as Rangihiroa’s mirror. Te Rangihiroa was the son of local chief Pakaurangi, and Te Maari (after whom the crater is named) was his sister. Te Rangihiroa is said to have explored the Tongariro volcanoes about AD 1750.

The Blue Lake is tapu (sacred) – do not swim in or eat food around the lake. From Blue Lake the track sidles around the flanks of North Crater (a cooled lava lake) and descends to Ketetahi shelter.

An impact crater and Te Maari steam vents in the distance.
An impact crater and the Te Maari steam vents in the distance

You can see evidence from the volcanic eruptions in 2012 – excellent views of the new steaming vents at Te Maari craters, impact craters near the track, and damage to the Ketetahi hut.

To protect the fragile soil and plants it’s important that you stay on the formed track.

The Ketetahi Springs are on private land. Walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing doesn’t give you the right to access the springs – keep to the track.

Ketetahi shelter to Ketetahi parking area

Time: 1 hr 30 min – 2 hr

The track continues to descend through golden tussock-covered slopes to the forest section. The tree line is the end of the Active Volcanic Hazard Zone. There are fantastic views of lakes Rotoaira and Taupo to the north. The cool podocarp-hardwood forest and its bird life provides a final contrast on the long descent to the roadend.

At two points the track passes over the tongue of a lava flow from Te Maari Crater and for a distance follows alongside the Manga-a-te-tipua Stream (polluted with minerals from the Ketetahi Springs). Toward the end of the track you can take a short side track to see a waterfall.

Published: February 25, 2014 | Comments: 0