After our last epic walk we then had two days off before then making a dash from Hawke’s Bay to Lake Waikaremoana for another four day walk as there was a good window of fine weather which we find makes the walks very pleasant. Before we got to Hawke’s Bay we stopped off for a walk to an old copper mine of which there was very little to see but I did get to see real live wild wetas living in a tunnel. It was a bit like something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark as they scurried around on the roof while I tried to photograph them with a little torch, the camera unable to focus in the dark and trying to keep my feet out of the water. It was worth it as they were interesting creatures with enormously long antennae. Someone told me they can give a good nip but I didn’t know that at the time. The dragonflies can be pretty huge too!
The walk around half of the lake is another of New Zealand’s Great Walks which makes it fairly popular but by going in March and mid week we didn’t see too many others. We visited some of the pretty waterfalls the day before we started the walk. We then caught a mini bus to the start with information on how the lake was formed by an earthquake and huge landslide about 6000 years ago. The lake is now used as part of a hydro electricity scheme which lowered its level by a few metres. We began by climbing Panekire Bluff, the high point of the walk but with the reward of fantastic views of the lake. The top was just another of a series of peaks which had us continually going up and down. They are in the process of building a new wide track that skirts around the peaks and makes for easier walking but you lose the beautiful mossy winding track that has you stepping over tree roots (and stops you thinking about your aches and pains as you are too busy watching where your feet go!) The hut was a welcome sight at the end of a tiring day.
The second day involved losing all that height we had gained the day before and taking us down to the lake’s edge. We completed the four hour walk in three hours and headed on to the next campsite to make our last day easier (11 instead of 19 km). We took a side trip to the beautiful Korikori falls and some of us swam in the lake while others stood in the shallows and washed. Not having a hut to retreat to the sandflies made a meal of us but the beautiful view was worth it.
Another foggy morning to begin the day and then a walk around the lake edge which is not as easy as it sounds. Every so often it was just a stroll but this morning involved lots of ups and downs and in and out through gullies and scrambling over tree roots with the reward of a glimpse through the trees of the stunning lake. Lunch was had at a hut set in a lovely cove and then an easy afternoon saw us at a huge twin hut (one was bunk room and the other kitchen/dining) and we had the place all to ourselves!
We strolled out on the last day to be met early by our bus driver and saved us sitting with the sand flies for an hour. We then had to backtrack to Napier and all the sights we had missed. Napier has made the most of being demolished by an earthquake in the 1930’s and being rebuilt in the art deco style – now a feature of the town. We enjoyed the jazz playing pianist busking in the street the most. We also drove up Te Mata peak – in the fog the first day with bus loads of cruise ship passengers and then returned in the sunshine the next day.
The main reason we had returned after the walk was for me to visit the gannet colony on the cliff at Cape Kidnappers. It is the largest mainland colony in the world and tourists have been visiting it for years so the birds are quite used to it. The bus pulls up right next to it with just a chain between us and the birds. Some of the chicks are quite curious and check us out as we watch them. The chicks were at the stage of testing out their wings and I watched one take off and fly away, its first flight and only 20-30% chance of returning to breed.