Lake Waikareiti

Te Urewera, Wairoa District, Hawkes Bay

Lake Waikareiti is one of the most pristine lakes in New Zealand located in Te Urewera National Park, Hawke's Bay, and is only accessible by foot. 

Te Urewera, home of the Tūhoe people, is the largest area of native forest in the North Island and offers a wonderful escape in ancient untouched rainforest.

Please refer to the Ngai Tuhoe website for the latest updates regarding Te Urerewa access.

Lake Waikareiti walking track is an easy 2-hour return trip from the main entrance just off Te Urewera Rainforest Route past the Lake Waikaremoana Holiday Park. The first half of the walk has a steady incline towards Lake Waikareiti, and you can look forward to a downhill journey on the way back.

See and hear a range of birdlife on the track, including curious Keruru soring above in the treetops and Piwakawaka (or, more commonly known as Fantails), scratching for bugs at your heels. If you're lucky, you might even catch a New Zealand native parrot - the Kaka or a Kakariki peaking through the foliage.

Along with gorgeous birdlife, there is a diverse ecosystem of native bush, all kinds of ferns, hundred-year-old trees, and ancient mosses covering the forest floor. The trees are predominantly red and silver beech with mighty rimu emerging above the canopy.

Once you reach Lake Waikareiti there is a day shelter and viewing platform with tables and seating - a perfect spot for a picnic lunch. The viewing platform overlooks a shallow bay with crystal clear water and brilliant white sand. There are also restrooms you can use at the day shelter.

After you've completed the 2-hour walk and returned to the entrance one of New Zealand's must-see waterfalls, Papakorito Falls, is located right across the road. It's only about 5 minutes walk and definitely worth the extra adventure before heading home!

Distance: 3.3 km
Duration: 2hr return

Getting there

If you are driving from Napier, take State Highway 2 North heading towards Wairoa. Once you reach the Wairoa township head inland on State Highway 38 to Lake Waikaremoana. Note that the last 30 minutes of the drive is steep, windy gravel road. The entrance of the track is located 200 meters from the Visitor Centre and Holiday Park on the Te Urewera Rainforest Route to Rotorua.

Other walking track options

Beyond the day shelter, the track goes to Sandy Bay Hut at the northern end of the lake, which is a further 3-hour walk. The hut lies idyllically on the shores of another shallow white sand bay, a fantastic option if you wanted to stay overnight (booking required).

Lake Waikaremoana is part of the Great Walk family. You’ll find this one more of a backcountry, off the beaten track experience. Check out all the options on the DOC website.


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Local Tips

During the summer months, the lake is warm enough to swim in and there is also a great big black rock to bake on (don't forget to pack your togs and towel). 


Make sure you have good solid walking shoes and carry water with you, there is no access to water along the way.

There are toilets at the day shelter.