Lake Okaro, situated near SH5 and SH38 between Rotorua and Taupo, is the smallest of the Rotorua lakes under public management. The lake has had poor water quality due to runoff from surrounding farms, but efforts have been made in recent years to improve the water quality, so that it can now be used for recreational use. The lake is adjacent to Okaro Road, off SH38 near the intersection with SH5. There is a campground, a boat ramp, and public toilets by the lake and Okaro Road. Te Ara Ahi, the thermal cycleway, passes by the lake on Okaro Road.
There is a walkway of about 2.3 kilometres around the lake, with a nominal time of 1 hour. The walkway follows the lake edge, with only relatively easy gradients on some smaller climbs. Vertical height difference is only about 20 metres for the track. About one quarter of the track, on the north-western border, is wheelchair accessible according to the signage. There is a charge for overnight camping, payable at the Rotorua i-Site on Fenton Street.
A link track connects the upper end of the Piako County Tramway track to Dog Kennel Flat junction adjacent to Mountain Road on Mount Te Aroha. From Dog Kennel Flat the road continues up to the summit of Mount Te Aroha and down to Tui Road by the Tui mines. From the junction it is also possible to take the steeper climb up the eastern side of Mt Te Aroha, or the Tui Saddle Track and Tui Track down to the Tui mines. Various other walking tracks also branch off nearby.
The link track, known as Te Aroha Link Track or Waiorongomai Link Track, also connects to Waipapa Track and Mangakino Pack Track. It is about 1.9 km long, and steep in places, mainly near the tramway end of the track. This walk was done starting and ending at Waiorongomai, turning around at Dog Kennel Flat. Continue reading
Eastern Okataina Walkway is a walkway through the Okataina Scenic Reserve connecting Lake Okataina at Tauranganui Bay at the southern end of Lake Okataina Road and Lake Tarawera at Humphries Bay (also known as Humphrey’s Bay). The walkway is about 10 km long, following the eastern shores of Lake Okataina for a large part of the way, crossing over a ridgeline with a climb of about 100 metres, and with a low saddle between Lake Okataina at Otangimoana Bay and Lake Tarawera at Humphries Bay. The walkway is mostly easy walking with no steps, but with a few short, steeper sections and some fallen trees requiring rougher, short detours.
There is access to the lake in several locations, and not far from the start at Tauranganui Bay there is a side track to Te Koutu Pa site. There is a short description of the walkway on the DoC web site. and in a brochure Walking and Hiking in Rotorua available for download from the Rotorua Lakes Council web site. There is a link to the brochure under the Brochures heading.
Mount Whakapoungakau is the highest point, at 758 metres, of the Whakapoungakau Range in the Lake Okataina Scenic Reserve. The summit is accessible as a side track off the Western Okataina Walkway, which is now a combined walkway and mountain bike trail. The walkway is accessible from the Lake Okataina and Lake Rotoiti end in several locations, and from the Lake Okareka end on Millar Road. This walk was done from Lake Okataina to the summit of Mt Whakapoungakau and return to Lake Okataina.
A short description of the Western Okataina Walkway can be found on the DoC web site, and all the tracks in the Lake Okataina region are described in a brochure available as a pdf file on the Rotorua Lakes Council web site. There is a link under the heading Brochures called Walking and hiking in Rotorua. Several of the tracks in the Okataina Scenic Reserve are also described in previous posts on this site, such as Lake Okataina Scenic Reserve – Ngahopua, Anaha and Kepa Tracks and Rongomai, Te Auheke and Tarawhai Tracks at Lake Okataina and Okataina Western Walkway – SH30 to Patotara.
Te Waiti Nature Trail is a short (800 metres, 30 minutes) walk through native forest in the Urutawa Conservation Area about 17 km by road south-east of Opotiki. The trail and conservation area are administered by DoC, and there is a very short description of the track on the DoC web site.
The track does not appear to be maintained or regularly used, there are almost no track markers, the entry point to the track has no signage, and the access road is a very narrow, winding gravel road that is not maintained by the local council. Only two or three vehicles could be parked by the entrance to the track without disrupting road traffic.
Hukutaia Domain is a 4.5 hectare reserve with remnant native bush and numerous native plants and trees gathered from all parts of New Zealand and offshore islands. It was set aside as a reserve in 1918, mainly to protect an ancient puriri tree, Taketakerau, also known as the burial tree. The tree is estimated to be over 2000 years old, and the hollow base was used by the local Upokorehe to store the bones of their distinguished, deceased members.
A keen local botanist, Norman Potts, collected plants from all over New Zealand for the reserve between 1930 to 1970, with the work continued by Marc Heginbotham until 1990. It is now cared for by the volunteer Hukutaia Domain Care Group. Some information about the reserve can be found on the Opotiki information web site.
Marawaiwai Scenic Reserve is located about 10 kms or a 10 minute drive south of Opotiki near the end of Harrison Road. A short, easy loop walk leads through native forest alongside a small stream. The reserve is at the northern end of Waikerea Forest. The track was built by Opotiki College students and is managed by DoC. The DoC web site has a short description of the track and of the reserve.
There is a small raupo wetland in the reserve. On the day this walk was done the birdsong was about the loudest and most persistent I’ve experienced, with kereru and tui as well as several other species very active in the trees.
Stoneham Walk, Hansen Walk, Prideaux Park, and Keith McKenzie Park are a contiguous set of recreation reserves in Kawerau with the Ruruanga Stream running through them between Valley Road, past Bell Street, to Tamarangi Drive (SH34). The Stoneham Walk reserve is quite separate from Stoneham Park, which is a reserve on Peter Lippa Drive. A walkway follows the Ruruanga Stream through the reserves, with bridges for the stream crossings.
There are several options for starting and ending a walk through the reserves, but the one recommended on the Kawerau Information web site starts on Plunket Street, across the road from the information centre. A brochure with a map can be downloaded from that web page. Parking is available off Plunket Street by the information centre, and toilets are available at the centre.
Onepu Park, also known as Onepu Community Park, Onepu Community Recreation Park, Onepu Mountain Bike Park, and Onepu MTB Park is located by State Highway 30, the main road between Whakatane and Rotorua, almost directly across from Braemar Road. The park is located on land owned by Norske Skog Tasman, and public access is permitted thanks to the generosity of that company. The largest part of the park consists of mountain bike trails, with two of these being dual use for bike riders as well as walkers or runners. A smaller area of the park consists of wetlands, with tracks and boardwalks restricted to pedestrian and wheelchair use.
There are 3 separate entrances to the park, each with its own small parking area. The entry to the bike park is almost directly across SH30 from Braemar Road, where extra parking is available, The entry to the wetlands is about 150 metres along the road, southeast of the bike park entrance. The entry and parking area by Lake Tamurenui is about 900 metres east of the bike park entrance, closer to Whakatane. There are no toilets in or near the park.
There are walking tracks, also used as cycle tracks, on both sides of the Tarawera River where it runs through Kawerau, with bridges over the river on SH34 at the northern end, by the golf course (pedestrian only) at the southern end, and on Waterhouse Street about halfway between the two ends. The tracks on the western (town) side of the river mainly pass through reserves and parks with no fixed marked tracks, with the ones on the eastern side the tracks rougher, also unmarked, and partly overgrown. Total track length is about 4.7km on the west side and 5.3km on the east.
There is parking available by Waterhouse Street and Firmin Field, on Porritt Drive, and in Tarawera Park. Toilets can be found at the entry off Waterhouse Street to Firmin Field. Continue reading