Waikato is a large farmland area of New Zealand. Its fertile soils and lush grasslands make it one of the world's richest dairy, thoroughbred and agricultural areas. Located in the central North Island is the Waikato River, which at 264 miles (425 km), is the longest in New Zealand. Rising on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park is the Tongariro River. The Tongariro River flows north through Lake Taupo and issuing from the lake's northeastern corner, tumbles over Huka Falls and flows northwest to enter the Tasman Sea south of Auckland.
Hamilton is the largest city in the region. Built on the banks of the Waikato River, the city is distinguished by its green relaxing riverside parks. Walk along the riverbank and on to the Hamilton Gardens for a lunch. Why not cruise the Waikato River on a genuine paddle steamer.
Cambridge is located along the Waikato River and with its old churches, trees and village green, has a charming relaxing English feel to it. Cambridge has a vibrant arts and crafts scene and is famous for its racehorse industry. Take a visit to one of the many stud farms.
Raglan is located to the west of Hamilton and has world famous surfing conditions, sheltered swimming beaches and good fishing prospects. Kawhia Harbour lies further south down the coast. Here, hot springs emerge from beneath the sand, this is where you can dig a hole in the sand with the right tide, then sit back and enjoy your own hot water pool.
The King Country is famous for some of the toughest All Black rugby players The King Country also offer the Waitomo Caves and glow worm grottos. Travellers to the caves encounter a mysteriously beautiful underground world, a labyrinth of naturally sculpted limestone formations and passageways. This is a not to be missed sight so take a guided boat ride along an underground river, where you'll glide silently beneath the stunning overhead glow worm galaxy that you will talk about for years.
Waikato has some stunning scenery. Above ground, there is the Waikato River, Hamilton Gardens and Matamata (at which some of the Lord of the Rings set remains). To witness the limestone grottos you need to head Waitomo to an underground wonderland where you can enjoy your caving experience. Experienced guides will educate you about the formations, which feature the Cathedral Cave. This is an impressive cavern with awesome natural acoustics. The tour finishes with a boat ride through the world famous Glowworm Grotto, where the glowworms illuminate the cavern walls.
The Legendary New Zealand Black Water Rafting Company offer adventures exploring subterranean rivers within ancient cave systems, whilst seated on an inner tube. All trips include complimentary hot showers, soup & a bagel and free entry to the Museum of Caves.
The Waikato offers a great way to really experience New Zealand's rugged countryside is with Waitomo Big Red 4X4 Motor Bike Tours. The adventure will take you through native bush with spectacular views of the surrounding alpine scenery.
If you have a need for heights and adventure why not abseil 100 metres below ground beside a subterranean waterfall. Waitomo adventures will take you caving, rafting, swimming and walking through some of New Zealand's most unique and beautiful backdrops.
A great way to take in Waikatos beauty is to get above it all from the sky in a hot air balloon. Flights usually take off after sunrise for a 3 to 4 hour drift beside the clouds with the wind. The Kiwi Balloon Company in Hamilton also offer a champagne-breakfast after landing so you can enjoy New Zealand in luxury.
In Hamilton you can visit the Hamilton Zoo and stroll through the historic-themed Hamilton gardens.
The Waitomo Region offers visitors a less commercial experience, 24kms west at the Mangapohue Natural Bridge, where a 15-minute loop trail beside a narrow limestone gorge begins. Experience these dramatic natural landscapes and you will tell your friends then return for more. A further 4kms west are, the Piripiri Caves preceded by a forest landscape. The caverns feature the Oyster Room, which contains giant fossil oysters and access to the stunning Marokopa Falls.
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The Waikato area offers a diverse outdoor experience with
the highlights below the ground.
Enjoy all the Waikato has to offer.
The Waikato's climate:
Average Summer temperature; 23c
Warmest months; December to March
Average Winter temperature; 14c
Average Hours of sunshine per year; 2000hrs
Average annual rainfall; 1190mm
Popular Waikato activities
Blackwater rafting in the Waitomo caves
Visit the Hamilton Gardens, Zoo and wildlife conservation park
Surf at Raglan
Visit Otorohunga's Kiwi house
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