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1


In the forest of the Lake Waikaremoana.


Waika-What? Nobody has ever heard this unpronounceable word unless he discovers it by chance on the map of the North Island of New Zealand. We always need to leave the beaten path.

It was quite difficult to reach this place. We have been through four consecutive hitchhikes. The last one was the ranger himself, a tight-lipped bearded man that introduced us the site.

Well, it all began on the great Lake Waikaremoana’s shore. Waikaremoana comes from Maori language, the local natives, meaning Sea of rippling waters… It’s an immense blue expanse surrounded by the high forested hills of the Te Urewera National Park.

2





We arrived two days earlier in New Zealand. Surprise! Here hiking is really easy. New Zealand government developed a vast program to facilitate hikes and the discovery of the great nature of New Zealand. The word they use for hiking is neither “hiking” nor “trekking” but “tramping”. It refers more to a kind of hikes that basically follows the bottom of valleys and goes through passes. The Department Of Conservation (DOC) equipped the National Parks with well defined and marked trails. On the way, huts provide accommodation to the trampers.

At the local Visitor Center, we chose a tramp that goes through the Lake Waikareiti, above the Lake Waikaremoana and leads us to the main top of the region, the Mount Manuoha.

3





The forest surrounding the great lake looks old and tropical, despite the beech trees that are the main type of tree around. It includes shrubs with large and smooth leaves and a sort of fern growing like a palm tree. Our path immediately went up onto the hills, in the woods, around large trunks and stumbling roots.

4





The view of the lake was still hidden by the trees. The forest seems really old. It regenerates itself continuously. Locals say it’s full of animals: deer, wild pig. Following the paths, we came through some points of interest: a lazy lake where some ducks were swimming, a broad swamp…
The trail was well marked by orange buoys nailed on trees. Our map was a simple photo of the real map at the visitor center.

5





And after four hours walking, we reached the Lake Waikareiti. Well, we only guessed it: the lake was hidden behind a curtain of large trees. Hopefully, the place we were going to sleep that night, Sandy Bay Hut, might be close to the water! But we needed to walk around the lake on half of its periphery to reach the hut. It represented two more hours, such a real challenge for tired legs.

6





Eventually, we got rewarded. We arrived on a heavenly white sandy beach. But this beach was sheltering a whole bunch of sandflies.

Sandflies? They are a tropical calamity. There are only few mosquitos in New Zealand, but I even missed mosquitos facing these insects. Sandflies are as little as big midges and attack pitilessly any uncovered skin: ankles, hands… They try to suck your blood all day long, especially in the morning and the evening. The button scratches during two or three days. Awful creatures!

However the background seemed perfect for a swim. The end of the day was hot, clear and the water was looking pure and soft. As the lake wasn’t deep at all, I had to walk for a few dozens of meters before I could have half of my body under water. Even there, some kamikaze sandflies were trying the suicide mission to suck my blood.

Dinner was frugal and cooked over a wood fire on the beach. We did not really have hiking experience yet and the supply was not as consistent as expected.

7





When the night fell, the unspoiled lake surface slightly troubled itself, liberating a thin misty layer that slowly danced on the water. The last moments of the day created a spectacular work of art, coloring the clouds with a golden light, while the black shadow of the woods was swallowing the sun. This amazing sunshine, this unnatural beauty could be a fair reason to cross the world just to have a glance at it.

8





A father and his son just fished a rainbow trout. In the dark night, they came to meet us. The trade was fair: they used our wood fire to cook the delightful fish and shared with us. You always deal with good surprises trekking.

9





We started late, the day after. It's easy to become lazy waking up with the sun on this perfect beach. We paid it: it was already hot, even under the trees. We continued the tramp behind the lake, on the trail going up on the hills. There were clues that the way was less frequented here: less recognizable traces, dead branches felt on the path and detours we had to do when trees were lying across the path.

On the side of the first lake we met, we decided to take our first break after two hours of walk. Dragonflies were flying and twirling around us. They were red, green, blue, brown, little or big, beautiful. Then, at the other end of the lake, we spotted a deer and two hinds.

We decided to approach the animals to observe them. We slowly reached the shore of the lake by a path of burden. The young deer was staring at me. He had a light beige shaggy coat. He didn’t know how to react to this strange visitor. When Pierre arrived, he disappeared casually in the wood.

10





The entire afternoon flew while we went up on a ten kilometers long ridge to Mount Manuoha. Progressively the vegetation was evolving.

We left behind us, at Lake Waikareiti, all the tropical plants. Slowly ferns disappeared too, and all other kind of trees except beech trees. Close to Manuoha’s top altitude, only those trees were remaining. There, they were bent, gnarled, and gloomy with the trunk covered with black foam.

11





When we finally arrived at Manuoha Hut, we rushed on the water tank. The day had been extremely hot. We had emptied our water reserves too quickly…
The Hut wasn’t looking pretty. It was a dusty cabin equipped with few mattresses and a stove. This night, we slept under the tent, once again.

The top is too high for the sandflies, but not for an armada of hundreds of big flies buzzing between the crooked trees. We spent there a terribly cold night. Pierre has a lighter sleeping bag than me. When the dawn came up, he sheltered in the hut. I remember hearing him chasing inside all the flies that woke up with the sun.
Their simultaneous roar surprised us at 5am during the sunrise.

12





We left the place around 9am to the close top. It’s the higher point in the region. From there we can see the sea at the east side. Far in the direction of south-west, the high snowy volcano, the Mount Tongariro stands on the panorama. However, we only had a limited view of the lakes.

13





The following part of the hike was obviously the descent. We needed to slope down the whole hill we climbed the day before. Immediately the vegetation evolved reversely. It became luxuriant and verdant. We met some brave trampers attacking the mount from the other side. They were enduring a very steep way. The trial ended when we finally reached the river that flows into the lake, at the bottom of the valley. The official end of the hike followed when we crossed the paved road, 18km from our departure point.

But it wasn't finished for us! Not until we have reached the lake shore to have a lunch. There, we got greeted summer scents and sandflies as much starving as we were. Rested and satiated, we left the park hitchhiking to the South Island.

1


In the forest of the Lake Waikaremoana.


Waika-What? Nobody has ever heard this unpronounceable word unless he discovers it by chance on the map of the North Island of New Zealand. We always need to leave the beaten path.

It was quite difficult to reach this place. We have been through four consecutive hitchhikes. The last one was the ranger himself, a tight-lipped bearded man that introduced us the site.

Well, it all began on the great Lake Waikaremoana’s shore. Waikaremoana comes from Maori language, the local natives, meaning Sea of rippling waters… It’s an immense blue expanse surrounded by the high forested hills of the Te Urewera National Park.





We arrived two days earlier in New Zealand. Surprise! Here hiking is really easy. New Zealand government developed a vast program to facilitate hikes and the discovery of the great nature of New Zealand. The word they use for hiking is neither “hiking” nor “trekking” but “tramping”. It refers more to a kind of hikes that basically follows the bottom of valleys and goes through passes. The Department Of Conservation (DOC) equipped the National Parks with well defined and marked trails. On the way, huts provide accommodation to the trampers.

At the local Visitor Center, we chose a tramp that goes through the Lake Waikareiti, above the Lake Waikaremoana and leads us to the main top of the region, the Mount Manuoha.





The forest surrounding the great lake looks old and tropical, despite the beech trees that are the main type of tree around. It includes shrubs with large and smooth leaves and a sort of fern growing like a palm tree. Our path immediately went up onto the hills, in the woods, around large trunks and stumbling roots.





The view of the lake was still hidden by the trees. The forest seems really old. It regenerates itself continuously. Locals say it’s full of animals: deer, wild pig. Following the paths, we came through some points of interest: a lazy lake where some ducks were swimming, a broad swamp…
The trail was well marked by orange buoys nailed on trees. Our map was a simple photo of the real map at the visitor center.





And after four hours walking, we reached the Lake Waikareiti. Well, we only guessed it: the lake was hidden behind a curtain of large trees. Hopefully, the place we were going to sleep that night, Sandy Bay Hut, might be close to the water! But we needed to walk around the lake on half of its periphery to reach the hut. It represented two more hours, such a real challenge for tired legs.





Eventually, we got rewarded. We arrived on a heavenly white sandy beach. But this beach was sheltering a whole bunch of sandflies.

Sandflies? They are a tropical calamity. There are only few mosquitos in New Zealand, but I even missed mosquitos facing these insects. Sandflies are as little as big midges and attack pitilessly any uncovered skin: ankles, hands… They try to suck your blood all day long, especially in the morning and the evening. The button scratches during two or three days. Awful creatures!

However the background seemed perfect for a swim. The end of the day was hot, clear and the water was looking pure and soft. As the lake wasn’t deep at all, I had to walk for a few dozens of meters before I could have half of my body under water. Even there, some kamikaze sandflies were trying the suicide mission to suck my blood.

Dinner was frugal and cooked over a wood fire on the beach. We did not really have hiking experience yet and the supply was not as consistent as expected.





When the night fell, the unspoiled lake surface slightly troubled itself, liberating a thin misty layer that slowly danced on the water. The last moments of the day created a spectacular work of art, coloring the clouds with a golden light, while the black shadow of the woods was swallowing the sun. This amazing sunshine, this unnatural beauty could be a fair reason to cross the world just to have a glance at it.





A father and his son just fished a rainbow trout. In the dark night, they came to meet us. The trade was fair: they used our wood fire to cook the delightful fish and shared with us. You always deal with good surprises trekking.





We started late, the day after. It's easy to become lazy waking up with the sun on this perfect beach. We paid it: it was already hot, even under the trees. We continued the tramp behind the lake, on the trail going up on the hills. There were clues that the way was less frequented here: less recognizable traces, dead branches felt on the path and detours we had to do when trees were lying across the path.

On the side of the first lake we met, we decided to take our first break after two hours of walk. Dragonflies were flying and twirling around us. They were red, green, blue, brown, little or big, beautiful. Then, at the other end of the lake, we spotted a deer and two hinds.

We decided to approach the animals to observe them. We slowly reached the shore of the lake by a path of burden. The young deer was staring at me. He had a light beige shaggy coat. He didn’t know how to react to this strange visitor. When Pierre arrived, he disappeared casually in the wood.





The entire afternoon flew while we went up on a ten kilometers long ridge to Mount Manuoha. Progressively the vegetation was evolving.

We left behind us, at Lake Waikareiti, all the tropical plants. Slowly ferns disappeared too, and all other kind of trees except beech trees. Close to Manuoha’s top altitude, only those trees were remaining. There, they were bent, gnarled, and gloomy with the trunk covered with black foam.





When we finally arrived at Manuoha Hut, we rushed on the water tank. The day had been extremely hot. We had emptied our water reserves too quickly…
The Hut wasn’t looking pretty. It was a dusty cabin equipped with few mattresses and a stove. This night, we slept under the tent, once again.

The top is too high for the sandflies, but not for an armada of hundreds of big flies buzzing between the crooked trees. We spent there a terribly cold night. Pierre has a lighter sleeping bag than me. When the dawn came up, he sheltered in the hut. I remember hearing him chasing inside all the flies that woke up with the sun.
Their simultaneous roar surprised us at 5am during the sunrise.





We left the place around 9am to the close top. It’s the higher point in the region. From there we can see the sea at the east side. Far in the direction of south-west, the high snowy volcano, the Mount Tongariro stands on the panorama. However, we only had a limited view of the lakes.





The following part of the hike was obviously the descent. We needed to slope down the whole hill we climbed the day before. Immediately the vegetation evolved reversely. It became luxuriant and verdant. We met some brave trampers attacking the mount from the other side. They were enduring a very steep way. The trial ended when we finally reached the river that flows into the lake, at the bottom of the valley. The official end of the hike followed when we crossed the paved road, 18km from our departure point.

But it wasn't finished for us! Not until we have reached the lake shore to have a lunch. There, we got greeted summer scents and sandflies as much starving as we were. Rested and satiated, we left the park hitchhiking to the South Island.

.