Lake Waikareiti lies at 892 metres above sea level, is 75 metres deep and covers and area of 380 hectares. The clear waters are devoid of any introduced aquatic plants, making it by far the largest pristine lake in the North Island.
There's an island on the lake. How many times can you say that you have visited an island, on a lake, on an island, on a lake, on an island? Classic!
The start of the track is signposted opposite the parking bay 200 metres north of the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre.
This wide, even and well graded track climbs steadily but gently through red and silver beech forest to a day shelter on the shores of Lake Waikareiti. (1¼ hours). There are nearby toilets and rowing boats for hire. These can be arranged by booking at the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre.
Because Lake Waikareiti is landlocked, populations of aquatic species may be genetically distinct, although further research is needed to confirm this hypothesis. The exceptionally high water quality is partly due to the fact the lake is free of introduced aquatic macrophytes. As such, it forms a useful baseline for scientists studying other modified habitats.
The story of the lake’s formation is different to that of its larger sibling. 18,000 years ago, a 10 km wide slab of rock fractured from its underlying foundations and slid from the smooth slope to the north-west. The start of the walk at SH 38 is the foot of the debris.
The resulting landscape is one of hummocks and hollows, infilled with wetlands and lakelets. The poor drainage in the areas of low relief inhibits forest growth, exposing the areas to extremes of weather.
Alpine plants thrive outside their normal range and unique vegetation assemblages occur.
Six forested islands are sprinkled throughout the lake, their bulbous forms disguising its true size. Rahui Island, the largest, is free of possums and suffers only occasional rat infestations. A small landing on the northern side accesses a ladder to a tiny lake. This has the distinction of being ‘a lake on an island in a lake on an island’.
The lake was first seen by European eyes in 1871 by Sergeant Bluett while searching for Te Kooti.
The lake was sold to the Crown in 1921 by local Maori, who found little use for it because it was lacking in resources.
North Island ▷ Out East ▷ Lake Waikaremoana
Easy walking with scenic views in a beautiful national park.
Very nice quiet walk up to Lake Waikareiti. It is not the easiest one because it went up 300 metres. We enjoyed the walk and the beautiful nature. At the lake there is a little shelter for a rest.
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Beautiful lake after one hour walking in the bush. Choose a sunny day for going there, the colours are amazing. You can also rent a boat ($20 for four hours. Or just go walking around the lake.
Lovely walk (Although seems all uphill the way there, I kept hoping for a downhill stretch but no). Fantastic views when we reached the very scenic lakes. Really nice walk.
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2 hours return. Very scenic lake! Great place to rest before the walk back through the forest.
Petra & Rolf
Interesting forest, nice trip with a boat (dingy) that was hired at the National Park.
WOW!! If you like nature and being on your own!
Just a very nice walk!
Max Van der Zalm
Sandy Bay is beautiful but day walkers used up all the water. Take the rest of the walking tracks for good views.
Walk through beautiful forest and if you organise with the nearby visitor centre beforehand, you can hire a row boat for half a day on the lake. Beautiful scenery and good value for money. Affordable for everyone.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍