A lovely semi-circular walk from Whanganui Hut to Onetoto Bay along the shores of Lake Waikaremoana. And it would not be a Great Walk if it did not rain, and it certainly rain on the last day.
Day 1 – Whanganui Landing to Marauiti Hut
Up at 4:30am to drive from Havelock North to the Lake. A water taxi was booked for 8:50am to take me from the end of the track at Onetopo Bay, and where the car was parked, to the start of the track on the other side of the Lake. I did not want to miss the pre-booked water taxi, hence the early departure. The walk almost came to an end at 5:00am, when loading the car with my back-pack I managed to trip and fall in the dark and slightly twisted my ankle. But I soldiered on and it got better during the walk.
After driving for three hours I arrived in good time at Onetopo Bay. The carparks were completely full. Usually people walk clockwise from Onetopo Bay to Whanganui Hut, but I choose the reverse direction to allow for more options should the weather turn bad. Always best to be walking towards a car than a water taxi.
The water taxi arrived on-time and within 20 minutes I was off-loaded on the other side of the Lake. I was the only person in the water taxi. It was a beautiful day.
The first day was an easy tramp, taking just over 4 hours and covering around 13.5 kms. It was very nice to walk in this relatively untouched rainforest. Marauiti Hut was definitively on the low end of the luxury scale. And I was a little disappointed to find that there was no cooking gas. Disappointed because I had not brought a camping stove with me. I guess I did not read the brochure very well, and incorrectly assumed the similar level of appointment as the Milford Track and the Tongariro Northern Circuit Track. Also, I did not pack toilet paper for the same reason, but that’s a different story for another time.
Turns out freeze dried meals are quite tasty cold. Just takes a little longer to rehydrate. And the water quality was good, so did not need to boil the water to purify it. The hut housed 10 people for the night, so it was very comfortable. All in all, a good first day.
Day 2 – Marauiti Hut to Panekiri Hut
Up super early for a super early start. Rain was forecast for the mid afternoon, and I was hoping to make Panekiri Hut before getting soaked. Which I managed to do with about 10 minutes to spare. It was a long day, as people often take 2 days to travel between these two huts, stopping overnight at Waiopaoa Hut. Completed the 26 kms in just under 8 hours, total elevation gain of 1,135 meters, according to my watch.
The rain forest continued to be amazing. I made a small side trip Korokoro Falls, and as the brochure states, this is indeed a must see. I got to stand behind the waterfall, which I think is a first for me. I failed to get views from the bluff, as the weather was turning nasty.
The hut was very average, but at least had a wood burning fire to dry out clothes. It took quite a bit of effort and some petroleum jelly to get it started. I had another cold freeze dried meal. The meals were ok, but I did miss having a hot cup of tea and the end of a long hike. The hut housed 12 people for the night, and I was quickly asleep.
Day 3 – Panekiri Hut to Onetopo Bay Carpark
First up and out of the hut before anyone else was up. Rain was predicted for the entire day, and I knew I would be soaked once I got to the car. I also knew that I would not get any views, which I didn’t.
The final day was easy enough, around 10 kms in just under 3 hours, descending 878 meters. My ankle was doing ok. Once at the car, got into fresh clothes and headed to Wairoa for a hot coffee and slice of carrot cake.
Overall a very enjoyable tramp, but given how easy it is and how close it is to the Hawkes Bay, I am sure I will do it again. Next time with a camp stove and toilet paper.
Update, 1 week later. Now the proud owner of a camping stove.