Urewera National Park
The Urewera National Park headquarters and visitor center at Aniwaniwa and ranger stations at Taneatua and Murupara give advice about walks in the national park, much of which is difficult to access, and information about the location of mountain huts. Walkers undertaking long hikes and requiring accommodation in the huts must inform the park authorities.The first section of the park was established in 1954 and there have been further extensions since then. It is now New Zealand's third-largest national park. It lies in the Urewera Ranges, the densely wooded hills that are still regarded as the most remote and inhospitable part of the North Island. The endless dark forests, never cleared by settlers, prevent the soil from being washed away by erosion and reduce the rate at which water drains away.The principal means of access to the National Park is Highway 38, which cuts through it from northwest (Rotorua) to southeast (Wairoa, Hawke's Bay). The best approach from the north is from Whakatane (Bay of Plenty) along the Whakatane River.Highway 38, the only route through the park from Rotorua via Murupapa and through the Urewera Ranges to Wairoa, was completed only in 1930. 220km long, it is poorly asphalted, if at all, and is very hilly, with numerous bends.
Address: 63 Carnarvon Street, New Zealand
In the center of the Urewera National Park is Lake Waikaremoana (alt. 614m), which is 55km long and over 250m deep. It is believed to have formed some 2000 years ago when a landslide dammed the Waikaretaheke River. There is a hydroelectric station at the south end of the lake where the river flows out. This quiet lake attracts tourists who prefer a peaceful holiday. A walk round the lake takes between 3 and 5 days; overnight accommodation is available in mountain huts. Fishing is permitted at certain points.
The visitor center is the starting point of Hinerau's Track, a beautiful trail through the park's striking landscape, with the chance of seeing many rare birds.Other attractive walks lead to the Bridal Veil and Aniwaniwa Falls and to the little Lake Waikareiti, higher up in the hills.
Ruatahuna, New Zealand
The scattered Maori settlement of Ruatahuna, on the western slopes of the Huiarau Range and the upper course of the Whakatane River, can be reached by way of Highway 38. From here it is worth making a detour (4km) to Mataatua to see (after politely asking permission) a very fine Maori meeting house with impressive carving.
Maungapohatu, New Zealand
The lonely settlement of Maungapohatu, where the self-styled prophet Rua Kenana gathered his flock, lies 20km north of Ruatahuna, below Mount Maungapohatu (1366m), which is almost always shrouded in clouds and mist. It was formerly a sacred burial place for tribal chiefs. Nothing remains of Rua Kenana's circular temple that stood above the present meeting house.