Travel tales

New Zealand’s beautiful (and unpronounceable) Lake Waikaremoana

Lake Waikaremoana

“Lake what?” After two days of road-tripping our way along the winding coast of New Zealand’s East Cape, we had arrived into Gisborne and had the map spread out to plan the next stage of our route. The obvious way to go was to carry on down the coast all the way to Napier, but a tip-off from a local tour guide had us looking in the direction of this unpronounceable lake. Lake Waikaremoana (it’s why-corry-moo-arna apparently), so we were told, was a beautiful lake in the middle of miles of wilderness forest, dramatic rock formations and waterfalls. And not that many visitors – possibly as they couldn’t pronounce it. But whatever it was called, it sounded well worth a road trip diversion.

Lake Waikaremoana campsite

The Motor Camp at Lake Waikaremoana

Lake Waikaremoana gets its tricky name from the Māori word for ‘sea of rippling waters’, and it has a huge 54km² worth of them. It’s surrounded by native forest that has never been logged, making it a great habitat for birds and wildlife, with a conservation programme to protect rare birds like the Kiwi and Kōkako. Most of the visitors to the lake come to sail or fish for trout, or to walk the Lake Waikaremoana Track – a three- or four-day walk that’s one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.

The lake forms part of Te Urewera National Park, the North Island’s largest national park. It’s the oddest named park in the country too, as when translated from the Māori, Te Urewera literally means ‘burnt penis’. The story goes that a chief out hunting in the area rolled over in his sleep a bit too near to the campfire and burnt his groin. According to Wikipedia it’s the only national park in the world named after genitalia!

Boat on Lake Waikaremoana at sunset, New Zealand

Watching sunset over the lake

A big part of the lake’s charm is how remote and peaceful it is, and it has managed to stay that way by not being too easy to get to. From the town of Wairoa on the coast (the last place to stock up on supplies), the road inland gets more and more windy and narrow, with the last part on unsealed gravel. But it was worth it when we pulled up at Lake Waikaremoana Motorcamp, one of the few places to stay on the lake.

We rented a chalet next to a group of trout fisherman who had been up for their annual fishing trip, for the 15th year in a row. It’s illegal to buy or sell trout in New Zealand, so if you want to eat some then you have to catch it… or at least befriend a group of trout fisherman who have. My friend Linda is a keen fisherman (should that be fisherperson?) and after comparing fishing stories they kindly donated us one of their trout to cook on the BBQ. It went perfectly with a cold beer while watching the sun set over the lake.

Papakorito Waterfalls

The Papakorito Waterfalls

Even if you don’t have time to do the full Lake Waikaremoana Track, there are plenty of other walks in the area. We started off with the short walk to the Papakorito Waterfalls, then went on to do the Onepoto Caves Track. This 2km walk takes you down into a valley and through dense undergrowth past different caves, from small overhangs to 20-metre-long caverns. The caves were formed by a massive landslide 2200 years ago at the same time as the lake. We slipped and slid our way through the caves, watching out for the wetas, a kind of giant cave-dwelling cricket.

Our final walk was to Lou’s Lookout, up through boulders and rock outcrops for a panoramic view across the lake – where the strong winds whipped up the lake below into the ‘rippling waters’ which gave it it’s name. Lake Waikaremoana might not be the easiest place to get to, or pronounce, but it was well worth the detour.

Lake Waikaremoana

The view across the lake from Lou’s Lookout

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New Zealand’s beautiful (and unpronounceable) Lake Waikaremoana – On the Luce travel blog

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No Comments

  • Reply
    Bella Westaway
    February 23, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Stunning photos! Great post 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      February 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks Bella, it was a gorgeous place. See from your site that you’re off on a RTW this year and heading to Paris – I spent a couple of months there last autumn and had a great time, hope you enjoy it too!

      • Reply
        Bella Westaway
        February 23, 2012 at 10:31 pm

        Thanks Lucy! I can’t wait 😀
        I’m sure that your travel tips will come in handy along the way!! 🙂 B xo

  • Reply
    wanderfulworldtac
    February 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Great photo’s 🙂 It looks stunning!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      February 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks, NZ is such a good place to take photos with so many interesting landscapes to see!

  • Reply
    LonelyTravelog
    February 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Totally agree! Stunning! I miss NZ

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      February 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      Me too! There are so many amazing places to see out there.

  • Reply
    nuresma
    February 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Stunning views!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      February 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      It was lovely, so glad we were tipped off about it!

  • Reply
    Traveling Saver
    February 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Hoping to visit NZ in 2013…thanks for the post!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      February 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      Sure you’ll have a great time! I was there over a year ago now but only just getting around to blogging about it, but should have a few more NZ posts coming up.

  • Reply
    nazahimmed nazahim
    February 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    nice place to visit

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      February 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks, it’s well worth the detour if you’re ever in NZ.

  • Reply
    nazahim
    February 23, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    i like to visit soon

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      February 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Hope you manage to make the trip, it’s definitely worth it!

  • Reply
    trailpics
    February 23, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Hi, my name is Diana; I’m a new visitor on this blog. Love the pics, and I also love your writing. Am looking forward to reading more of your posts 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      February 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Hi Diana, thanks so much for stopping by! Hope to have some more NZ posts coming soon. Love the photos on your site too by the way, especially those waterfalls, amazing colours!

      • Reply
        trailpics
        February 25, 2012 at 2:12 am

        Hey Lucy, I’m already looking forward to your next NZ posts. Yes, Tennessee has some real beautiful waterfalls. As you might have noticed, I am still a very clueless blogging-rookie. Someday I might figure all this out, thought 🙂

  • Reply
    2 Rivers Photos
    February 24, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Great write up and lovely photos. My next trivia challenge I will ask: “Where is the only lake in the world that is named after genitalia?” 🙂 hahaha… sadly thats #1 thing I will remember the most about this post!!!!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      February 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      Haha, yes we went to the visitors centre there and that was the one piece of info about the place that stuck in my mind!!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Courtney (@TheTravelBunny)
    February 24, 2012 at 10:55 am

    What a beautiful place – and so the list of places to visit gets ever-longer…

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      February 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      I know the feeling – my travel wish list seems to expand at twice the rate I cross things off it!

  • Reply
    Amer
    March 8, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    wow..really great capture! The sunset one looks fantastic!

  • Reply
    spotell
    July 10, 2012 at 10:50 am

    The name is tough to remember- when I climbed it with my boyfriend I gave him a pop quiz every now and then about the name. He could never get it right!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      July 10, 2012 at 11:07 am

      I had to recite it to myself for ages to get it to stick in my head! My friend who I travelled there with is a big climbing fanatic and really wanted to climb there but we were on a bit of a tight schedule unfortunately.

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