In brief: The Lake Waikaremoana Track is the least popular of the New Zealand Great Walks, probably due to the difficult access. On the contrary it is this relative remoteness, which none of the other Great Walks has, that makes the walk exceptional:
40 km (GPS, officially it is 46 km) between the Onepoto and Whanganui huts circling part of the Waikaremoana lake, the highest point being the Pankire Bluffs overlooking the lake. Most of the walk is undulating through ancient forests next to the lake side which is quite tough at times. The Korokoro falls side-trip is a must!
The Lake Waikaremoana track could probably be walked in two days, spending the night either at Waiopaoa or Korokoro Campsite.
The biggest challenge of this walk is organizing transport from the trailheads. Even with a car, it can turn out a nightmare as the last 50 km of the road driving from Rotorua is unpaved.
The view from the Panakiri bluffs; walking through the ancient forests; the Korokoro falls.
Lake Waikaremoana Itinerary, camping, January 2016: Onepoto Landing-Waiopaoa Hut-Tapuaenui Campsite-Whanganui Hut-Onepoto Landing (boat).
July 2013: First time out on a multiday, camping hike: The Northern (and most popular) stretch of the Kungsledenfrom Abisko to Kvikkjokk – approximately 160 km walked in 10 days.
The wilderness of Laponia in general. Although you are never far away (10 km max) from a staffed hut, there is a true sense of wilderness, which furthermore comes without virtually without a risk of predators.
Aktse. An old, now abandoned, settlement, where the spirit of the settlers remain and a mountain lodge now is established at the old settlers lodge.
The endless forest between Laitaure and Kvikkjokk.
The midnight sun. In July it never really gets dark.
The hike itself is only medium difficulty and thus requires only medium fitness. Furthermore it is both very well marked and well prepared.
Laugavegurinn is traditionally scheduled as a four-day hike from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk, but could be done in two (staying at Álftavatn). I did it in three (doubling the first two stages thus staying in Álftavatn the first night) plus one additional day for the Fimmvörðuháls.
The main challenge is the weather: Four-season gear is needed as snow may fall anytime a year and/or fog may obscure visibility especially on the snowfields.
The 20 km-extension over Fimmvörðuháls next to the Eyjafjallajökull volcano (responsible for the the 2010 ash cloud) and down to Skógar and the Skogafoss waterfall is not to be missed. Though slightly harder than the previous days, the main challenge remains the weather, especially:
The snowfields. One large before Hráftinnusker and one at the Fimmvörðuháls pass (where I got lost).
Even in high-season, the trail was not overcrowded. In addition if one follows a general rule of leaving late (10 am)- arriving lateyou may find yourself virtually alone on the trail. There are plenty space at the campsite and the sun is out until 10 pm.
It is well worth it to spend at least half a day at Landmannalaugar, hiking or bathing in the natural hot springs. Right next to the hot springs the water source is so hot that one may cook dinner/boil eggs there.
Hráftinnusker is a very cold and windy place. Therefore, and especially for those camping, it makes sense to double the first stage and camp at Àlftavatn.