Waikaremoana lies in the Gisborne Land District on the eastern boundary of the Urewera National Park. The height of the lake is 2,015 ft above sea level and it covers 21 sq. miles. The lake is a drowned-valley system at the head of the Waikare-Taheke River and is blocked by a huge landslide several thousand years old. Surrounded by low-dipping stratified sedimentary rocks of upper Tertiary Age, the scenery is dominated by high bluffs such as Panikiri and Wairere, and long forest-clad slopes parallel to the bedding. The whole region, including the landslide at the eastern end of the lake, is blanketed by pumice ash erupted from the Taupo region some 1,800 years ago. The latest major rise in lake level and the age of the latest landslide have been dated as 2,200 years ago by the radio-carbon method.
Waikaremoana (“Sea of Rippling Waters”) figures prominently in early Maori legend, being the abode of the Tuhoe tribe or “Children of the Mist”, whose story is described by Elsdon Best in his book Tuhoe. In the European era the region was the retreat of the rebel chief Te Kooti and his followers after the Hauhau rebellion of the later Maori Wars. In still later times Maungapohatu pa, north of the lake, was the home of the Maori prophet Rua and his followers. The lake, set in a large area of forest, is a well-known scenic, fishing, and shooting resort. Three power stations on the Waikare-Taheke River – Kaitawa, Tuai, and Piripaua – use the waters of Waikaremoana for generating electricity, the installed capacity being 124,000 kW.
by George William Grindley, M.SC., New Zealand Geological Survey, Lower Hutt.