Hinehopu/Hongis Track runs for 2.2 km through the Hinehopu Scenic Reserve, from Hinehopu on Lake Rotoiti to Te Pōhue Bay on Lake Rotoehu. The reserve was gifted to the people of Aotearoa NZ by the Ngāti Pikiao iwi in 1919 and has never been logged. It is a very pretty walk through ancient rimū, tawa, pukatea and rewarewa trees. About 1.7 km along the track, there is a short loop to State Highway 30 and Hinehopu’s sacred mataī tree.
Hinehopu lived in the area around 1620 and kept two homes, one at each of the lakes. Prior to this, as a baby, she was hidden under the mataī tree by her mother as protection from their enemies. It was also where she later met her future husband Pikiao, literally leading to the birth of the Ngāti Pikiao people. Hence the first part of the track’s double barreled name.
The name Hongi arose when the Ngāpuhi warrior chief, Hongi, and a war party carried their canoes from Lake Rotoehu to Lake Rotoiti in 1823. They then paddled across Rotoiti and down to Lake Rotorua for a surprise attack on the Arawa people on Mokoia Island.
We prefer the more romantic first story.