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Te Urewera National Park

Wednesday, 16 May 2007 : Filed under: East Cape E-Mail This Article

Te Urewera National Park
Lake Waikaremoana in Te Urewera National Park – New Zealand


Comment by josh — May 16, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

Te Urewera is a huge national park located west of Gisborne on the north-eastern part of New Zealand’s north island. Te Urewera is Maori for burnt penis. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently way back when some legendary Maori chief was sleeping and rolled to close to his camp fire. I’m not joking.

Anyways, the park is huge with several lakes. The largest is Lake Waikaremoana shown above. From the main highway, we took a small, windy, mountain road (mostly gravel) about 60km to a motor camp on the lake. You can see the camp on bottom left of the photo. That is where we stayed, in a nice warm cabin.

We spent two nights and one full day in the park taking a couple of small hikes, and one longer one. The longer one took about four hours, and took us by one of the smaller lakes. Sheryl hiked the hour to the lake, and then Beth and I hiked another hour and then made the return hike. The water was beautiful but too cold to go swimming in.

Apparently there is very good trout fishing in the park, like in many freshwater areas of New Zealand. I read a book on trout fishing, but have never tried myself. It sounds pretty hard.

On the way out of the park the next morning, we started to smell something funny. We pulled over and our back tire was smoking. Luckily we had a spare that held up for another 30km of washboard roads, and the nearest town had a Firestone. They were able to get us a new tire and back on the road in just a few minutes.

Comment by dad — May 17, 2007 @ 2:06 am

Wow! Awesome picture. Gorgeous spot! Now we need a picture of the 60km winding mountain road. That seems sort of… well, sort of. Have you done any fishing on this trip at all?

So what is the vegetation like in the park? Forest? savannah? And ask Beth what kind of trees predominate. Evergreens? Anything more specific? What kind of wildlife? Are you seeing any?

It looks so remote on the map that I’m surprised you found a firestone so easily. Does it feel remote? Google earth doesn’t have any kind of a decent picture of it. I thought about trying to download their newest version to see if it was better, but the download page has a bunch of weird jinglish on it: “you can look at yourselves, as your own looks at home from air (sowing suffering perspective) whether its car straight before the door stands or whether your neighbour cuts the straight hedge.”

Comment by dad — May 17, 2007 @ 2:39 am

On my map I see it shows a decent road into the park and along the se side of the lake through Tuai and Waikaremona. When you went on the winding mt road did you go on past W, or go west from Tuai? Or am I missing something cause my map doesn’t show enough?

Comment by Peg Moore — May 17, 2007 @ 4:39 am

**Pfew** about the smoking tire and finding a Firestone!!! Not the kind of place you really want to have vehicle problems! (Not sure “pfew” is the right spelling, but its cousin “whew” wasn’t exactly what I meant. Hehe. ;-) ) Oh, and I got a grin out of your “I’m not joking” line. Weird! The photo is beautiful. And interesting to note that that’s your motor camp in the lower left. BTW, Dad’s put this photo and the previous one (the road) on his monitor as his screen saver. Because they’re so large, everything in them is all the more visible plus giving that right-there feeling. Awesome! XOXOX

Comment by Peg Moore — May 17, 2007 @ 4:43 am

So it’s definitely getting cold enough to appreciate a “nice warm cabin”? I suppose with the changing seasons and with your getting further south? BTW, I’m glad you included the photo of the inn. Good choice, Beth. Very picturesque.

Comment by josh — May 17, 2007 @ 10:03 am

I took a look, and I don’t really have a picture of the winding mountain road. It’s funny though, the “decent road” that you mention is the road I am talking about, so yeah you are missing something. What you are missing is that New Zealand roads that appear decent can be washboard gravel roads up and down mountains and around cliffs :) . It was paved off and on for the first 30k, and then it was gravel most of the rest of the way, with lots of steep uphills. The van doesn’t like uphills. The road goes all the way to Rotorua, another 150k or so I think. I heard that is a pretty rough drive.

As far as vegitation, Beth says tree ferns predominate, and there are lots of evergreens. I don’t know what that means, so I will see if I can get her to post more info when we have a bit more time. We are in a hurry to check out of our hotel at the moment. We have seen some birds and ducks, but not a whole lot of wildlife. There really isn’t that much wildlife in New Zealand. At the lighthouse we did see this strange animal that I have not looked up yet, so I don’t know what it was. It was about the size of a medium sized dog (think Goldie) but looked like a rabbit.

Comment by josh — May 17, 2007 @ 10:25 am

The photos look large on your computer? that is good, they look pretty small here. I guess that could be because I’m running 1920×1200 resolution.

If you (or anyone for that matter) has a photo they would like as a wallpaper, you can let me know what monitor resolution you want a wallpaper for, and the photo and I can upload a higher resolution version that is the correct size for your monitor. I have made a few for my laptop, but it is widescreen so wouldn’t work for most.

About the temperatures… the park was up in the mountains so it got a bit chilly and windy at night. For the most part the weather has been really nice for our entire trip. The days are sunny and warm, and then the nights get a bit chilly. We have had no rain, which is amazing for New Zealand.

Comment by beth — May 18, 2007 @ 10:56 am

When hiking in Te Urewera National park, the most conspicuous element of the forest was the understorey. As we tramped through the dark cool forest, the plants most noticable around you were ferns, tree ferns, epiphytes and vines on other trees.

A moment on tree ferns: The tree ferns are quite unique in that they are ancient plants that were here before flowering trees and the like. They are not able to build a true wooded trunk like conifers and flowering trees. While the true stem of the tree is only a few centimeters in diameter, as the fern fronds die, the closely packed bases stay on the trunk and add to the diameter of the stem and also prevent the growth of vines and epiphytes. In addition, at the base of the trunk wiry roots grow densely to form a solid mass that also increases the trunk’s diameter. Thus the forest looked like something of a prehistoric world, a fern gully.

The upperstorey is composed of a variety of conifers and flowering (deciduous) trees, but they are harder to identify because the branches with leaves are usually very high (towering above tree ferns and such) and they are usually covered in epiphytes. Some conifers are white and silver pine, totara, and native cedars. Deciduous trees (I think some of what we saw), include ribbonwood, lacebark, and some native beeches (including the black beech).

The native wildlife is not very prolific (as many speicies have gone extinct since human contact, and natively New Zealand had only birds minus two species of bats). We did here tuis (and I think I saw one). We also have seen the New Zealand falcon (although not on our hike). Overall though the forest is pretty silent.. kind of strange.

Comment by dad — May 20, 2007 @ 7:38 am

Thanks, Beth! that kind of stuff is interesting. At least to me. ;^)

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