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Waikareiti/Ruapani Circuit, Hawkes Bay

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Waikareiti/Ruapani CircuitIntermediate

Submitted by Lyn Stanton

Info Info
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Trail Information





Hawkes Bay


Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, some big hills

Native bush


7:00 (Slow)
5:00 (Moderate)
3:30 (Fast)



Be aware of possibility of hunters.

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From the trailhead, keep straight on up the hill. This first part of the trail, while a moderate but relentless 300m climb, is very smooth and well formed all the way to the lakeside shelter. There are toilets here.

After the shelter the track immediately becomes significantly more technical, initially hugging the lakeside and then cutting inland for a while before meeting the Ruapani Circuit junction which is signposted. If you just want to do the circuit, turn left - but this full route incorporates an out and back to visit Sandy Bay Hut further around the lakeside. This stretch looks deceptively easy on the map but the repeated significant undulations in and out of side creeks are reasonably taxing. The track is generally good but fern overgrowth can make it hard to see your feet and will slow most people down a bit.

There are a number of small bridges in the gullies and eventually you will emerge at Sandy Bay - lovely for a dip in the right season and there is water here and shelter from the elements if needed. When ready, return the way you came to the junction and this time turn right and continue the Ruapani Circuit. You will pass a number of open swamp pans in the forest - shallow lakes if there has been a lot of rain - some relief from what can seem slightly oppressive deep forest. Small sign boards give their names and will enable you to track your progress if you have a topo map. In wet weather some parts may be very muddy. Eventually you may hear the road and emerge seemingly quite suddenly by the trail head where you came in.

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Features of interest

Magnificent native forest with interesting swamp flats and a beautiful lake

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 0%

Technical Single Track: 30%

Moderate Single Track: 50%

Easy Single Track: 20%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 0%

Gravel Road: 0%

Sealed Road: 0%

Route Data


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Lake Waikareiti trailhead, on Highway 38 just north of Waikaremoana Holiday Park

    Roadside parking opposite trail head and nearby, or park at carpark by Holiday Park

    65 km

    66 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    The track is generally well formed but there can be vegetation over growth. A topo map is recommended. It pays to maintain awareness of the usual DOC orange triangles.


    Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map.

    From the lake and at the hut. Nothing on rest of circuit.

    It could get very cold in here and will get dark early in such dense bush. Gear up accordingly.

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See other runs nearby:

Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk

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