Te Urewera National Park is off the beaten track and one of New Zealand’s lesser known wilderness areas. Local guide Rob Franklin has been living and working in the area for 10 years, running Walking Legends. Few people have spent more time on and around park, so who better to show you how to enjoy the perfect day in this untouched wilderness?
0600 Wake up at dawn at the motor camp at Home Bay, grab a towel and before you can talk yourself out of it sneak out into the chill as the first rays of sun break through the Waikaremoana mist. Morning Swims aren’t too bad this far north – we have clocked some shallow bays at 23°C!
0700 Trout for breakfast is a staple in these parts, so don’t forget your fishing rod and licence.
0800 Aniwaniwa Falls is just a 10-minute walk up the road or a primo 10-minute kayak right from the motor camp where you will find a perfect network of tracks to explore every angle of these leaping cascades.
1030 Checkout the huge rata tree a short walk along Ngamoko Track near the motor camp.
1200 Grab a pie or two from the motor camp shop and drive north-west along Te Urewera Rainforest Route. It’s among the best in the country for pot holes and wandering horses, but it’s also stunningly beautiful and like a trip back in time to the glory days of rural New Zealand.
1400 Arrive at Ngaputahi, cross the bridge and head up Okahu Valley Road, straight up the back end of the world-renowned and ancient podocarp-filled Whirinaki Forest Park. Eco-warriors campaigned in the 80’s to save this treasure from the chop, but the best thing about it is the sick new bike track DOC dropped in there about five years back. It’s 35km of fast benched track that has been described as one of the best MTB experiences in the country. (Either car shuttle or arrange a lift with Jail House B&B near Minginui).
2000 Back at your car – head north to Murupara for a feed and a half hour drive to Kerosene Hot Springs near Rainbow Mountain Reserve where you can soak away the sweat, grime and aches.
From Aniwaniwa hike to Lake Waikareiti, a perfectly clear lake about one tenth the size of Waikaremoana and 300m higher.
Hire a row boat from DOC and paddle around Waikareti. Row out to Rahui island, which has another lake on it. On a calm blue day you won’t believe such a place exists in NZ.
– Chris McLennan