Lake Waikaremoana

Lake Waikaremoana is located in Te Urewera in the North Island of New Zealand, 60 kilometres northwest of Wairoa and 80 kilometres west-southwest of Gisborne. It covers an area of 54 km2 (21 sq mi). From the Maori Waikaremoana translates as 'sea of rippling waters'

The lake lies in the heart of Tuhoe country. The hamlet of Āniwaniwa and the Waikaremoana Holiday Park are located on the lakeshore, along SH38 (from Wai-O-Tapu via Murupara to Wairoa), which connects the lake to the central North Island (Rotorua) and Gisborne. There is a Department of Conservation office at Aniwaniwa. Several walks start here, including a short stroll to Aniwaniwa Falls.

The village of Onepoto is located on the lake's southern shores, close to the lake's old overflow channel and the intake of the Waikaremoana hydroelectric power scheme. The name Onepoto means short beach , and refers to the small bay to the north of the village with a beach only 60 metres long.[1]

Lake Waikaremoana is a holiday destination for people who use the lake for fishing, tramping and other recreational activities. The Lake Waikaremoana Track, one of New Zealand's "Great Walks", is a three- to four-day tramp which follows approximately half of the lake's circumference. The track can be walked independently, or as part of a guided group. There are huts dotted on the walk which require booking to use. Camping is permitted unless you are more than 500 metres from the track.

The climate of the area is temperate In the summer and cool during the winters, snowfalls occur a few times a year in the region.

Numbers of visitors to the area are limited to some extent as a result of the extensive unsealed road that must be taken to reach it. This makes Lake Waikaremoana significantly less congested with tourists than the other 8 Great Walks in New Zealand. The smaller Lake Waikareiti lies four kilometres to the northeast.

Lake Waikaremoana
New Zealand, Great Walk Lake Waikaremoana (1)
Lake Waikaremoana (winter 2015)
NZ-L Waikaremoana
LocationWairoa District, Hawke's Bay Region, North Island
Coordinates38°46′S 177°05′E / 38.767°S 177.083°ECoordinates: 38°46′S 177°05′E / 38.767°S 177.083°E
Primary outflowsWaikaretaheke River
Basin countriesNew Zealand
Surface area54 km2 (21 sq mi)
Max. depth256 m (840 ft)
Shore length1102.3 km (63.6 mi)
Surface elevation600 m (2,000 ft)
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Geography, natural history and climate

Waikaremoana, the North Island's deepest lake (256 m deep), has its surface at 600 metres above sea level. A huge landslide dam about 250 metres high formed the lake around 2,200 years ago.[2] Before the landslip was sealed, around 1950, much of the lake outflow flowed through the landslip rather than out of an overflow at a low point in the slip.[2]

Other geographical features include Panekiri Bluff and Puketukutuku Peninsula, which is the site of a kiwi-conservation programme. Surrounded by mountains clad with native forest which has never been logged, Waikaremoana is regarded as the North Island's most attractive lake. Many native bird-species scarce in most other parts of the North Island occur in the area. A possum-hunting programme operates in the area to help protect the forest. Numerous understory species grow within the forested area of the catchment basin, crown fern, Blechnum discolor, for example.[3] Since at least the early 1900s lake-bottom molluscs have been studied by Colenso (1811-1899) and others.[4]

The climate of Lake Waikaremoana is temperate during the summer months and cool in the winter where snow events are not unheard of. Heavy rains affect the region, especially about late winter and early spring. The weather in the area is very changeable, trampers in the region need to be on the look out for dangerous weather conditions.

Hydroelectric power scheme

New Zealand, Great Walk Lake Waikaremoana (7)
Fisherman on the bank of the lake

The Waikaremoana Hydroelectric Power Scheme appears to be the only example of a hydroelectric power station being built on a natural landslide dam.

Modifying the natural dam

The stability of the natural dam has been the subject of intense engineering review, both at the time of construction and subsequently. Construction of an outlet tunnel through the slip, which commenced in 1935, required extensive grouting around the control structures and throughout tunnel construction. Work was suspended at the end of 1936 because Bob Semple, the newly elected Minister for Public Works, wanted the tunnelling project reconsidered for "risk, cost and value". A new tunnelling scheme was devised in 1941 based on what had been learned from initial exploratory tunnelling and work recommenced in 1943 and continued for about 5 years because of continual problems with dewatering the tunnels. After the tunnels and intake headworks had been completed the natural dam was sealed for leaks on the lake side by removing submerged timber, a task that took a year and then applying 40,000 cubic metres of crushed rock and clay-like pumice in 6 layers, then covering those layers with a top layer of larger rock and spalls to protect the material from wave action. This sealing reduced the natural flow by about 80%. The sealing of the lake was only done after tunnelling was completed otherwise it would have caused the lake level to rise and make tunnelling more difficult. As it was, the lake level had to be lowered by temporary syphons to enable the construction of the headworks and make sealing of the natural dam easier.[2]

Power stations

Although the Waikaretaheke River carries a flow of about 17 m³/s from Lake Waikaremoana, the head of water through the 3 power stations, Kaitawa, Tuai, and Piripaua is around 450 metres, allowing the stations to potentially generate 138 megawatts all up. The 250m head of water for the Kaitawa station is the highest for a dam in New Zealand and among the highest in the world.[2]

See also


Line notes

  1. ^ Wises New Zealand Guide, 7th edition 1979
  2. ^ a b c d Offer, R.E. (Robert) (1997). Walls for Water: Pioneer Dam Building in New Zealand. Palmerston North: The Dunmore Press Ltd. pp. 191–200. ISBN 0-86469-313-3.
  3. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2009
  4. ^ Royal Society of New Zealand. 1905


View of Lake Waikaremoana from Panekiri Bluff
View of Lake Waikaremoana from Panekiri Bluff

External links


Frasertown is a small settlement in the northern Hawke's Bay Region of New Zealand's eastern North Island.

It is located inland from Wairoa at the junction of SH38, and the inland route (the Tiniroto Road; the former SH36) to Gisborne. State Highway 38 leads from Wai-O-Tapu via Murupara, The Ureweras, Lake Waikaremoana and Frasertown to Wairoa. It gives a short, but (partly) unsealed, winding and climbing connection to the Central North Island Rotorua.

Lake Waikareiti

Lake Waikareiti, also spelt Lake Waikare Iti, is located in Te Urewera National Park in the North Island of New Zealand. A number of hiking trails are found within the catchment basin of the lake.Its formation followed a landslide 18,000 years ago, in which a part of the landmass of 10 kilometers wide slid to the north-west. It is four kilometres to the northeast of the larger Lake Waikaremoana, into which it drains via the Aniwaniwa Stream. The smaller lake's surface is at an altitude of 880 metres above sea level - considerably higher than that of Waikaremoana - and as such the stream has several fine waterfalls such as the Aniwaniwa Falls and Mokau Falls.

Several small islets are found in the lake. One of these, Rahui, itself contains a tiny lake - one of New Zealand's very rare lakes within lakes.

Numerous flora species are found within the lake catchment basin, crown fern (Blechnum discolor) being a widespread understory plant. An assortment of birds found in the North Island are present at the national park except for the weka.

Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk

The Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk is a 44 kilometre tramping track which follows the southern and western coast of Lake Waikaremoana in the North Island of New Zealand. Passing through several types of forest, and grassland, the track often provides views over the lake. It is classified as one of New Zealand's Great Walks, and is located in the former Te Urewera National Park.

Mangaaruhe River

The Mangaaruhe River is a river of the Gisborne Region of New Zealand's North Island. It flows southeast from the Ngamoko Range southwest of Lake Waikaremoana, flowing into the Wairoa River eight kilometres north of Frasertown.

Manganuiohou River

The Manganuiohou River is a river of the northeast of New Zealand's North Island. It flows southwards from its source in Te Urewera National Park immediately to the northwest of Lake Waikaremoana, and joins with the Waiau River at the park's southwestern boundary.

Mokau Falls

Mokau Falls is a cascade located at the head of Mokau Inlet in New Zealand's Lake Waikaremoana.

Mokomokonui River

The Mokomokonui River is a river of the northern Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand's North Island. It flows generally southwest from its sources in several streams southwest of Lake Waikaremoana, and flows into the Waipunga River close to the settlement of Tarawera and State Highway 5.

Ngāti Ruapani

Ngāti Ruapani is a Māori iwi of northern Hawke's Bay and the southern Gisborne District in New Zealand. They take their name from the ancestor Ruapani, who lived at the Popoia pā on the Waipaoa River near Waituhi in the 15th and 16th century. The main centre for the tribe is now the Lake Waikaremoana area.

Ngāti Tūtekohe was an iwi of the Gisborne District in New Zealand, who took their name from Tutekohi, a descendant of Ruapani.

Powelliphanta traversi

Powelliphanta traversi, known as Travers' land snail, is a species of large, carnivorous land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusc in the family Rhytididae. This species is endemic to the North Island of New Zealand between Wellington and Lake Waikaremoana.

There are six subspecies, all of which are listed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation as threatened:

Powelliphanta traversi florida Powell, 1946 – Nationally Endangered

Powelliphanta traversi latizona Powell, 1949 – Nationally Endangered

Powelliphanta traversi koputaroa Powell, 1946 – Nationally Endangered

Powelliphanta traversi otakia Powell, 1946 – Nationally Critical

Powelliphanta traversi tararuaensis Powell, 1938 – Nationally Endangered

Powelliphanta traversi traversi Powell, 1930 – Nationally Endangered

The eggs are oval and seldom constant in dimensions 10 × 8.75 mm, 9.5 × 8.5 mm, 10 × 8 mm, 11 × 9 mm, 10.75 × 9 mm.


Ruapani was a rangatira (chief) of the Māori in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa (the Poverty Bay-region on the East Coast of New Zealand) in the 15th and 16th century.

He is said to have been the paramount chief of all the Tūranganui-a-Kiwa tribes around 1525.

His influence was large, it extended into the Ruakituri Valley and the Whakapūnaki district as far as the Huiarau Range beyond Lake Waikaremoana.


The town of Ruatahuna is located in the northeast of New Zealand's North Island, 90 kilometres west of Gisborne, and 18 kilometres northwest of Lake Waikaremoana. It is situated on the unsealed part of SH38, from Wai-O-Tapu via Murupara to Wairoa.

A small town in the upper reaches of the Whakatane River, Ruatahuna is in the remote country of the Ureweras, and is surrounded on three sides by the former Te Urewera National Park. The area was the site of much action during the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s and 1870s.

It is a subdivision of the Galatea-Murupara ward of the Whakatane District.

Te Hoe River

The Te Hoe River is a river of the Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand's North Island. It flows south from its sources west of Lake Waikaremoana to reach the Mohaka River 20 kilometres north of Lake Tutira.

In 1999, palaeontologist Joan Wiffen discovered the vertebra bone of a titanosaur in a tributary of the Te Hoe River.

Te Urewera (protected area)

Te Urewera is a protected area and former national park in the area of Te Urewera, near the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. It was established as a national park in 1954 and disestablished as such in 2014, when it was replaced by a legal entity named Te Urewera. It was the largest of four national parks in the North Island. Covering an area of approximately 2,127 km², it was in the north of the Hawke's Bay region of the North Island.

SH38 is the only road that leads through the park. The road is unsealed over 74 km.

On 28 July 1954, the catchment areas of Lake Waikaremoana, Lake Waikareiti and other Crown reserves were gazetted as a national park, and by 1957 proposals were well underway to add the rest of the Crown land in Te Urewera north of Ruatahuna. This proposal was formalised in November 1957 when an additional 1,350 km² were added. Further additions were made in 1962, 1975 and 1979, with smaller acquisitions and boundary alterations in the intervening period. The lake bed and Māori enclaves were not included in the park gazetting. The Crown had leased the lake bed, which was managed by the Department of Conservation.

Te Urewera is the traditional home of the Tuhoe people. Due to its geographical isolation, it was one of the last regions to be claimed by the British during colonisation in the 19th century. In March 2013, Tuhoe signed a deed of settlement, settling the tribe's claims at the Waitangi Tribunal. Under the deal, Tuhoe will get $170 million and more control over Te Urewera. Te Urewera ceased to be a national park under the Te Urewera Act 2014, but the new entity still meets the International Union for Conservation of Nature criteria for Category II – National Park. The area is now administered by the Te Urewera Board which comprises joint Tūhoe and Crown membership. It is still open to the public and the Department of Conservation will continue to work in Te Urewera and maintain the tracks and facilities in conjunction with the Board.

Waiau River (Hawke's Bay)

Hawke's Bay's Waiau River is one of at least four rivers of this name in New Zealand. It rises in the Kaingaroa Forest to the west of Lake Waikaremoana, and flows southeast for 60 kilometres before joining the Wairoa River.

Waikare River (Bay of Plenty)

The Waikare River is a river in the Bay of Plenty Region of New Zealand' North Island. It flows north from its origins between the peaks of Matawhio and Papakai north of Lake Waikaremoana to reach the Whakatane River 25 kilometres (16 mi) east of Murupara.

Waikaretaheke River

The Waikaretaheke River is a river of the Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand's North Island. It serves as the outflow of Lake Waikaremoana, flowing southeast from the lake's southeastern shore to reach the Waiau River 20 kilometres northwest of Wairoa. State Highway 38 follows the river's course for much of its length.


Waiotapu, also spelt Wai-O-Tapu (Māori for "sacred waters") is an active geothermal area at the southern end of the Okataina Volcanic Centre, just north of the Reporoa caldera, in New Zealand's Taupo Volcanic Zone. It is 27 kilometres south of Rotorua. Due to dramatic geothermal conditions beneath the earth, the area has many hot springs noted for their colourful appearance, in addition to the Lady Knox Geyser, Champagne Pool, Artist's Palette, Primrose Terrace and boiling mud pools. These can mostly be viewed through access by foot, and in addition to a paid and curated experience, naturally forming hot springs appear around the area. The geothermal area covers 18 square kilometres. Prior to European occupation the area was the homeland of the Ngati Whaoa tribe who descended from those on the Arawa waka (canoe).

The area has a long history as a tourist attraction. While the area has been protected as a scenic reserve since 1931, a tourist operation occupies part of the reserve under a concession. It operates under the name "Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland". The business was bought in 2012 by Te Arawa Group Holdings, a local Maori tribal business, from the Sewell/Leinhardt family, who had run it for 30 years.At Wai-O-Tapu the New Zealand State Highway 38 begins. It crosses Kaingaroa Forest, passes Murupara, and then continues as an unsealed road through the mountains of Te Urewera, along Lake Waikaremoana to Wairoa on the border of Hawke Bay.

Wairoa River (Hawke's Bay)

The Wairoa River of the Hawke's Bay region in New Zealand runs south for 65 kilometres from the inland east coast region of the North Island, west of Gisborne, before flowing into northern Hawke Bay at the town of Wairoa.

The full Māori name of the river is Te Wairoa Hōpūpū Hōnengenenge Mātangi Rau, which means the long, bubbling, swirling, uneven waters.It has a catchment area of 1,415 square miles (3,660 km2), which includes Lake Waikaremoana.

The major tributaries are:

the Hangaroa River

the Ruakituri River

the Mangapoike River

the Mangaaruhe River

the Waiau River

the Waikaretaheke RiverThe Hangaroa River and the Ruakituri River merge at Te Reinga Falls, near Te Reinga. This is where the Wairoa River begins.

Lake Waikaremoana is formed in the rockfall-dammed headwaters of the Waikaretaheke River. It has a confluence with the Waiau River 14 miles from the coast.In 1948 a big flood of the Wairoa River submerged the traffic bridge in Wairoa and flooded parts of the town to a depth of 3 feet (0.91 m). This flood flow is one of the largest recorded for any river in New Zealand.In 2010, the Wairoa Township River Walkway project commenced. The Walkway is a pedestrian and cycle path starting at the bridge on the south bank of the Wairoa River. It is planned that it will eventually completely encircle the town.

Āniwaniwa Falls

The Āniwaniwa Falls, or Rainbow Falls, are a two-drop waterfall located at northeastern Lake Waikaremoana in New Zealand.


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