Te Urewera Rainforest

The largest of the North Island's four rain forests at 212,600 hectares and one of 14 national parks, Te Urewera Rainforest is also home to the Tuhoe, the "children of the mist".

Rugged, remote with a brooding immensity it is renowned the world over for, Te Urewera is as close as it gets to the untouched wilderness, with many parts of it so infrequently traversed as to have forgotten man's footsteps - if indeed it has ever heard them.

There are two jewels in this crown that today are major drawcards for tourists all over the world. Lake Waikaremoana and the smaller body of water in Waikareiti are a must-see and both lakes can be trekked around.

Waikaremoana is believed to have been created 2200 years ago when a huge landslide blocked a narrow gorge along the Waikaretaheke River. Water backed up behind this accidental mountain to form a lake up to 248 metres deep. In 1946 a hydroelectric development lowered the lake level by 5 metres.

The land left exposed when the lake was lowered is slowly regenerating while all around the lake the misty mountains stretch off into the distance, mantled in ancient podocarp and beech forests in the southern end and a mix of mostly rimu and tawa in the north. There has been upheaveal; over the years, milling, volcanic activity, fire and storms have all left their mark. Introduced species such as possums, pigs and deer cause significant damage and hunting of these species is encouraged.

As much of the park is remote and not easily accessible this has helped protect much of the park's native wildlife. Te Urewera is unique in that it contains a full complement of North Island native forest birds (except weka) including threatened species like kiwi, kokako, kaka, falcon and the distinctive whio or blue duck. The northern part of the park has the largest remaining kokako population in New Zealand.

There are a wide variety of treks, ranging from tramping, horse riding and mountain biking. Manawa Honey and Whare Honey is sourced through the Te Urewera and Whirinaki and is available for purchase at our on-site offices.

The best guides are the locals who have a deep and abiding love and knowledge of the area. You can discuss what you might like to do at our on-site Tourism and Information Centre, or contact the Department of Conservation.

Or you can go straight to the guides at Te Urewera Treks.