Hiking the Whakarewarewa Circuit

A while ago, I decided it was time I joined a tramping group. One that appealed and which had good reviews from other “hikers/trampers” was Pack n Boots.

My first one took place in February. This group meets up most Sundays. Beginning with a meeting place either in Papamoa or Tauranga to carpool. Always a good idea as many carparks at the start of many hiking areas are usually restricted to a few car spaces.

The Redwoods would be the beginning of our hike leading over the Whakarewarewa Forest and past a few lakes. Just moments out of the centre of Rotorua and a pleasant 40 – 60 minutes drive from Tauranga with everyone agreeing that it was going to be another lovely warmish day, with the heat adding a challenge to our hike.

This was to be my first long hike, with a few hard lessons to be learned.

There are various walking routes and one tramping route from the Redwoods Carpark and Information Centre. These can vary from less than half an hour to an all-day tramp.

First things first, most of us required the use of the toilets before starting off. What a pleasure they were to use in more ways than one and very arty to boot.

The Toilets

This particular hike was one where no one [apart from the leader] had any knowledge of how long it was going to be. Being the ever optimist, I had hopes that it wasn’t going to be too hard and not too much longer than my first hike with another group. See Hiking Mt Eliza Mine Loop.

I was to be proven wrong on both counts.

The 56 hectares in the Whakarewarewa Forest has long been a favoured playground for horse riders, mountain bikers, walkers and hikers. Who have been drawn to its magnificent stands of towering native and exotic trees, especially it’s Californian Coastal Redwoods.

Our hike for the day was to include the above [though not all the 56 hectares], forestry roads and track, spectacular panoramic views of Rotorua and walk the shores of the beautiful lakes Tikitapu [Blue] and Rotokakahi [Green] it was to be 34km long.

The gentle path 2

The beginning of our walk saw us walking through a section of the Redwoods; I loved the feeling of being so insignificant amongst these giant 110-year-old Redwood trees. Then came the accent to eventually see us climb approximately 500 meters, via paths and oh so many steps!

At the top, the climb was worth the effort.

A view of Rotorua

Remembering that we had 34kms to do I was seriously starting to doubt my ability to finish it on a hot summers day. Then I looked around gaining a fabulous view of the bush and numerous trees, it was a happy place to be and all negative thoughts faded in comparison.

Beginning of our hike

One of the more memorable sights on our hike was seeing a bearded man with bright red stockings and a sparkly tutu with just 3 hours to go to complete the Tarawera Ultra Marathon, which is a staggering 162 kilometres, for a short moment my empathy went to him and his co-contestants than certain sore parts of my body.

Then came the views of the lake.

The Blue Lake

Stunning and since the pace was faster than I would have liked there was not enough time to spend enjoying the view or take too many photographs. Ironically the faster hikers had longer breaks than us slower ones! You see the goal for most of the hikers was to complete the full 34kms, and walking along at a slow pace would not have seen them finish at a reasonable time.

During our lunch break by the lake, the hike was re-organised to accommodate those of us that needed to a shorter distance, which was reduced to 22kms. This friendly and welcoming hiking group wanted to make sure that we all enjoyed our day out.

I thanked them, my feet and back thanked them and I could have hugged them for rejigging the hike.

Time to head back to the Blue Lake and wait for the rest of the hiking group.

The trek back to the Blue Lake

This situation could have been eliminated by including more details of the length, as writing “long” doesn’t really give us much to go on. I also could have gathered more information by asking questions before embarking on this hike.

All in all, even though the hike was longer than I expected and in parts I became unbearably hot and bothered, I did enjoy the day out in the bush.

Sometimes life is about taking risks, getting out of our comfort zones and challenging ourselves.

It was worth it!

Since this hike, I have indeed acquired more knowledge on what to expect, the terminology used amongst hikers and admitting that hiking requires a high fitness level.

At the end of the day, I survived to tell another tale no worse off and much wiser. After a few more I’m pleased to report my fitness is improving as is my enjoyment.

Until next time, enjoy your walk no matter how short or long it is.


Check out other Monday Walks with Jo


41 thoughts on “Hiking the Whakarewarewa Circuit”

  1. A 36km hike?! Thatโ€™s insane! Even 22km is incredibly long, especially as a first hike with the group. Congratulations, Suzanne. And, I agree with you that the more you hike, the better your fitness level and the more enjoyable tramping becomes.

    Each time Mark and I set out on the road for a while (after house sitting), our fitness level is awful and the first uphill hikes exhaust me behind words. But, after a few of those, I feel so much better and look forward to more explorations and trails. I also find that when we hike at higher elevations for a while, our fitness level increases.

    Beautiful photos! I love those Redwoods and the lake!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Having done some hiking myself in the south of Spain I know a bit of the challenge of hiking on a hot summer’s day. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Lots of beautiful moments but I think I only got to enjoy them back home. ๐Ÿ˜ While at it I was more or less sorry for my poor feet and grumbling stomach. ๐Ÿ˜‚
    Thank you for all those wonderful pictures you’ve shared from your hike with us – they do make me want to do some tramping again. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’m with you Sue. I’ve been on a few walks where the leaders are head down charging along and seem to not be taking in their surroundings at all. I like to look at the plants and the birds and the view too.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, I don’t quite understand why people want to walk so fast that they don’t appreciate the view. Having said that maybe they do at a faster pace ๐Ÿ™‚ Unfortunately, doing a long hike requires a certain amount of quickness or else the group will be walking in darkness especially during the winter.
      Must get over to your neck of the woods for a hike one of these days!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 30 odd kms is a big ask for a day tramp. Sounds a bit too serious for my liking. It’s more about the journey for me, not how far or how fast. I’m way too lazy for that sort of walk.
        I haven’t done a decent walk for a long time but I have a very good friend who’s in the local club. They walk on a Thursday, a work day for me but I can give you his contact details if you like.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It was nice of your group to cut the hike short. That’s the sort of group I’d want to hike with again and again! Glad you had such a pretty view, too.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. What a beautiful hike, Suzanne. The redwood-looking toilets are cute; I would love being dwarfed by the giant redwoods. I wouldnโ€™t like not knowing how long a hike was going to be; I always have to prepare mentally and know what to expect. I donโ€™t think I could have done 34 km!! Even 22km is a lot. Someday I hope I can make it to New Zealand. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. Sounds like a tiring and yet rewarding hike. I’ve always preferred hiking slower and not just because I have short legs, but because I’m supposed to be enjoying the wilderness. How can I do that if all I’m doing ins trying to get to the next resting point as soon as possible?

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Sounds a bit like our Striders group, Suzanne. They walk purely for fitness and to show they can, at a fast pace, though seldom more than 19km. The aim is always to finish for a nice lunch somewhere. Incentive ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ This looks a beautiful walk and a shame not to be able to take the time to savour it, but I’m glad you were offered a shortened version. Thanks for the link!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You are absolutely right April regarding the mental preparation. It worked well when I was competing in half marathons. Anytime spent in the bush/forest is worth the effort. How’s your fitness program going?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve damaged my knee, so it’s not going at all at the moment. I’m intending to start back with some gentle walking this week and, if that goes well, running short distances next week. I’ve been very robust all my life and becoming fragile at this stage is frustrating.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Donna, thanks and yes it was very good of them to split up the hiking group so we could all achieve a positive outcome. I did over estimate my fitness that day though there were a few others that decided it was too much to achieve on a hot day.
      At the moment there is quite a bit of tree felling in parts of the forest so more open areas.
      Live and Learn!


    1. It will be a good hike to repeat after a few more shorter ones. Actually the kilometres are not that important, as it is the time and how hard the terrain that needs to be considered when considering what hikes to do. Some hard ones are less than 10kms though require more hours to complete than say a flattish hike of 20kms.
      The Redwoods are beautiful and makes me feel very humble by walking amongst them.

      Liked by 1 person

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