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Waikaremoana way to Rotorua?

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Waikaremoana way to Rotorua?

Will be completing our East Cape visit at Mahia Beach then heading inland to Rotorua, Is the route via Waikaremoana advisable and is the road sealed? Thanks.

Dunedin, New Zealand
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1. Re: Waikaremoana way to Rotorua?

The road is not sealed, it is windy, hilly, narrow, badly corrugated in parts, dusty, rugged - and I'm planning to do it again!

Feilding, New...
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2. Re: Waikaremoana way to Rotorua?

Last time we did that road in our motor home,( pulling over whenever needed and a suitable place found, I must add!), it was dusty, badly corrugated, filled with four wheel drives towing large boats or caravans, few safe passing spots but well worth the angst. Make sure you have enough fuel for both car, driver and passengers as it is a long, slow but scenic trip.

New Plymouth
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3. Re: Waikaremoana way to Rotorua?

Oh - that road! I remember it very well. My father had the bright idea, when I was little, that this was just the way for us to go when returning from Gisborne to Taranaki.

It was gorgeous, but it took hours and hours, and the long stretches of gravel road drove me mad.

My sister was carsick multiple times, I was grumpy at all the bumps and stones, Mum groaned in despair, Dad clutched the steering wheel like the hair of a drowning man, and kept on going.

In spite of, or because of, all that, I particularly enjoyed the two excursions we took en route.

The first one was into the little village of Tuai - built for the Waikaremoana Hydroelectric Scheme in the 1930s. The dam which creates Lake Waikaremoana is a natural one, formed by two massive landslides thousands of years ago. The scheme was constructed in three stages, from 1926 to 1948. Tuai, on the edge of Lake Whakamarino is the main station, where the water drops 205m (the highest drop on the scheme) through three penstocks and generates 60MW of electricity


Piripaua Power Station (42MW) was added on in 1936 below Tuai, generating, and as demand for electricity rose, the Kaitawa Power Station (36MW) was opened in 1948 or 1949. The work involved tunnels through fractured rock that had to be sealed, surge chambers, inverted syphons to take the water under various streams, and the diversion of the Waitaraheke River.

The scheme was added onto in the 1950s as the natural drainage from Lake Waikaremoana is through cracks in the landslide dams which created it, but some of these were sealed to divert more water into the hydroelectric scheme. The spillways throughout the scheme also help regulate the level of the lake, and overflows can be diverted into the Waitaraheke River as required, either directly, or via adjoining streams, so the stations can be operated separately, or altogether, as needed.

For the last fifteen years, the scheme was been operated remotely from Tokaanu, 120km away as the crow flies, much longer by road, so Tuai is no longer a Hydroelectric Village.

But the constable at the sole-charge station watches over some of the most remote and inhospitable countryside in the entire country, and there is a little place to stay called the Tuai Suite http://www.waikaremoana.ollyfuntree.com There used to be a lodge on Rotten Row (!) which I wanted to stay at, due to such a ridiculous address, but I am not sure if it is still operating. The nearest supermarket is back at Wairoa, so wherever you stay, stock up there. There is a motor camp or two in the area too, www.lakewaikaremoana.co.nz/accommodation/ or http://www.waikaremoana.info/ and I would really recommend you stop en route in this area, partly because it is so gorgeous, and partly because - from experience - the road from Wairoa through to Rotorua or Taupo is just too much for one day.

Our next excursion was into the Visitor Centre at Aniwaniwa, a walk along the Lake, and we had a picnic - except of course, my carsick sister, before heading on again.

The area is populated by the Ngai Tuhoe iwi (tribe) - the People of the Mist.

While welcoming to visitors, particularly people who want to learn of them, and to respect their ways, they have had a particularly troublesome time with the Crown (represented by the government). Their lands were confiscated, they live an often poverty-stricken life in a remote area (as far as hard cash is concerned - in other ways they are rich beyond description), they have been treated very harshly by the government in the more distant past, and treated with considerable suspicion rather more recently - I will conclude this post with a little of what went on at Maungapohatu many years ago - and only now are they able to move on, as their Treaty Settlement concludes, in spite of considerable criticism at the amount they are spending on what I call "Tribal Headquarters" - a fifteen million dollar affair. It's going to be a most environmentally friendly "living building" and will be fascinating when completed, but I worry that the settlement funds would be better used on, for example, improving the housing stock of their people.

When I say rich beyond description, I refer to the sheer amount of land they hold, the food it provides them, their kindness to visitors, their strength and determination, and their generosity and hospitality.

Now, the Te Urewera National Park, through which you will traverse, whether you have time to stop, or not.

It is named for a most unfortunate incident - urewera literally meaning "burnt penis" - after a chief most unfortunately had a fit and fell into a cooking fire, or in other accounts, rolled into a campfire while asleep. Either way, his penis was burned, and the name remains. Such a name would be unthinkable in English, but the Maori people tend to have a rather more matter-of -fact manner about things like that.

The park is the largest in the North Island, is composed of rugged range upon rugged range, has its highest point at Mount Manuoha (1392m), and is home to the Great Walk of Lake Waikaremoana, along with many, many, other tracks. As usual in New Zealand, be prepared for anything when tramping, but perhaps at Te Urewera in particular, due to its remoteness from medical assistance. Hunting is permitted in this park - even encouraged, but you must have a permit from the Te Urewera Board. Similarly, fishing is permitted in Lake Waikaremoana but again you need a permit - in this case a fishing licence. These are easy to obtain.

There are areas of privately owned Maori land within the Park, it is usually fine to traverse these but stay on the track, partly for cultural and partly for legal reasons.

Now, the tale I promised you, In 1916, there was a police raid in the Ureweras, at Maungapohatu, the sacred mountain of the Tuhoe.

Rua Kenana, a prophet, had dreams of improving his follower's welfare after the loss of their most valuable lands, but also claimed to be the new Messiah, politically embarrassed the government, caused much conflict within his own tribe, and perhaps worst of all in those days, resisted conscription for World War One for himself, and his people, and wanted the Germans to win, on top of all that. An army of Police Officers was sent to Maungapohatu to arrest him for sedition, a gun battle followed, and he was taken away. His circular temple was destroyed, and although he was found not guilty of sedition, he was found guilty of resisting arrest and served a year in jail.

The Tuhoe have, naturally, never forgotten this. I did find it interesting though, that they didn't charge him for bigamy as well - or perhaps "quinamy" if there was such a thing - he had five wives!

More recently, raids were conducted in the Ureweras during 2007 where an alleged paramilitary training camp was raided in the ranges. 17 of the leaders were arrested, initially as terrorists, but for complicated legal reasons, they were not charged with this, and faced charges of being part of an organised criminal group, along with multiple firearms charges instead. They were found not guilty of the rather serious criminal group charge, but four were found guilty of various firearms offences. The main trouble was the collateral damage - people who turned out to be innocent being interrogated, schoolchildren seeing armed police combing the district, and so on. So you may understand that on the one hand, the law must be upheld, unlicenced guns must be seized, and any suspicions of sinister camps investigated, and on the other hand, to the Tuhoe, it was Maungapohatu, all over again.

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4. Re: Waikaremoana way to Rotorua?

Thanks to everyone who responded to my post.

Received similar info on road conditions from your fellow Kiwis when they learnt about our plan. Was advised to use Wairoa-Taupo alternative. We were concerned about car damage as it was a rental and whether we were confident with narrow roads when confronted by another vehicle from the opposite direction. Pity we had to miss out on such a scenic route and seeing a place with such interesting history. Cdn-npl, we thoroughly enjoyed your very educational input on the region. NZ - a natural wonder.

5. Re: Waikaremoana way to Rotorua?

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