Manuoha and Lake Waikareiti

The walk over Manuoha, and to Lake Waikareiti and Sandy Bay really was the highlight of my walk. It was absolutely awesome.

From Whanganui Hut, the last hut on the Waikaremoana Great Walk, it’s a quick walk out to the road and then a short distance along it to the start of the track up to Manuoha. This is a backcountry track, and not that many people do it. In fact, I didn’t meet anybody on that day, and on the next just one other lady.

At Sandy Bay, there was a big group then for a night, otherwise it was very quiet – just an old man, almost 80 years of age and visiting Sandy Bay for the last time in his life. But that’s a different story.

The track up Manuoha is very pleasant. After the first bit up to a steep ridge which is hard work, it’s a very gradual climb up to Manuoha. The forest is absolutely fantastic all the way:

024 Weg hinauf zu Manuoha (400x300)

Up on Manuoha, the evening light was quite spectacular:

029 Manuoha Abendstimmung (400x300)

On the next day, it was a very gradual descent with no steep bits at all. It was a marked route, with frequent track markers. Once you’re out of the goblin forest (the best one I’ve ever seen) and there is more undergrowth, you actually cannot see the track anymore at all as it is overgrown by waist high fern. It was really quite cool to follow the track markers with my eyes, and my feet finding the track themselves.

The forest was just as great as on the way up:

031 Wald auf Weg nach Sandy Bay (400x300)

The weather was great, so when I arrived at Sandy Bay, I pitched my tent on a small grassy clearing by the lake:

033 Mein Sandy Bay Camp (400x300)

Very nice spot with evening sun, it was just a long way to the loo.

The bay itself is very shallow and the water can get quite warm. Great to have a dip in after a day of tramping.

I stayed at Sandy Bay for a couple of days, relaxing, reading, and talking to people when there were any. The weather was mostly sunny and dry with quite a lot of wind, and just one short interlude of showers. It got very cold at night though, with frost one morning. In fact, during the whole tramp the nights were unusually cold for the season and just below the comfort zone of my sleeping bag, brrrr.

Towards sunset, the wind usually died down, and even though it was cold, it was quite pleasant. The lake in the evening lake certainly was worth putting on thermals and a beany:

035 Abendstimmung am Lake Waikareiti (400x300)

On the day I decided to walk out, it was all blue skies and sun.

The golden sand on the lake shore, and the clear turquois blue water made it almost look tropical:

036 Lake Waikareiti (400x300)

It was an easy walk back to the motorcamp, on a good track along a few wetlands and through good bush.

I went up to Lake Waikareiti again on the following day, to escape a noisy schoolgroup at the motorcamp. It was very pleasant up there and I sat and looked out over the lake for a while. Peace came to an end when a few DOC people arrived, as they were doing some supply drop-offs by helicopter.

So I went back to the motorcamp again. Luckily enough, it rained quite a bit in the evening which got the schoolgroup to retreat to their camping area and tents.

I took the shuttle back to Rotorua on the next day. Back to the city, to fresh vegetables and fruit, to a soft bed. Luxury! But of course also back to fumes, car traffic, and boring walks no hard tarmac. If you asked me, bush tracks are so much nicer!

Lake Waikaremoana

Setting off from the motorcamp, the first day of my big loop tramp involved climbing up Ngamoko hill, and then down to Rosie Bay along the old Maori trail. It was a stunning day of blue sky and sun over the deep blue lake and surrounding green bush clad hills:

001 Lake Waikaremoana (400x300)

I pitched my tent close to the water, away from the other campers with their cars and vans;

007 Rosies Bay Camp (400x300)

The next day was just as nice, and again there was a big hill to climb. The views were stunning, and I took long breaks soaking up the sun with my feet up and admiring the scenery with the glittering water below:

010 Panekire Bluffs & See (400x300)012 Blick auf Waiharuru Halbinsel vom Bald Knob (400x300)

There were some guys who climbed up the cliffs from their boat bush bashing their way up, and who gave me some spare chocolate they didn’t want. Now that’s life – sun, views and surprise chocolate!

In the evening, a cold front moved in and the next day was a bit wet. It wasn’t too bad though, with being in the bush all day. The forest was really nice:

016 Wald mit Farnen (400x300)

I also did a short side trip to Korokoro Falls:

017 Korokoro Falls (300x400)

As it was still a bit drizzly, I pushed on beyond the campground I was supposed to stay at. When it started showering in earnest again, I just happened to walk past a private hut…with a big deck and roof…table & bench…spring water from the taps…and a sign in the window that it was welcome to use this shelter. Do I need to say more? It made for a very nice and quiet night.

As it was clearing up on the next day, I hoped for some good weather on the following couple of days for the next – more remote and challenging – part of my walk. So again I pushed on beyond the campground I was booked on and walked to the last hut on the Great Walk. This would enable me to get onto the next part on the following day, hopefully in good weather.

It turned out to be a good decision, with a very nice sunrise over the lake:

020 Sonnenaufgang bei Whanganui Hut (400x300)

The whole day was great, as was the walk up to Manuoha and over to Lake Waikareiti over the following days. I’ll tell you about this next week.