Waikato, New Zealand
The landscapes you'll encounter in the Waikato will stay with you for all time. Find pure serenity above ground and the most astounding adventures below.
Above ground the view is dominated by the serenity of the Waikato River and the rich rolling green of productive farmland.
Travelling south from Auckland, the Waikato is the first region south of Greater Auckland.
As of June 2005, Waikato's estimated population was 384,700.
The Waikato region, centred on the Waikato River, contains some of the world's most productive farmlands. The main centre is the university town of Hamilton, with an impressive collection of Maori treasures in its Museum of Art and History.
Hamilton is famous for its themed gardens, and the local zoo which has the largest free flight aviary in the Southern Hemisphere.
Hamilton Gardens covers an area of 58 hectares and includes the Hamilton East Cemetery and Municipal Nursery.
In the Waitomo area, south of Hamilton, there's a natural labyrinth to discover. Massive subterranean caverns are adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, formations that have been millions of years in the making.
Main Attractions and Activities
Beneath the rolling green fields in the south are the Waitomo Caves, whose cathedral-like caverns have long attracted sightseers but now also cater for thrill seekers exploring the underground streams and shafts. Glide through the darkness on a raft and admire the beauty and grandeur of the caves and glow-worms overhead.
The more adventurous could try tube rafting on an underground stream or abseiling (rappelling) 100 metres into the Lost World and the Haggas Honking Holes (no previous experience is required).
Above ground, there are interesting walks in the unusual limestone country. Exploring the many small prosperous Waikato towns for arts and crafts can also be very rewarding.
Out on the coast, Raglan is an internationally renowned surf beach and the region's seaside resort. The local township is laid back, crafty and well furnished with good eating places. Even if you don't surf, you'll want to sample the idyllic Raglan lifestyle.
Call into Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge, home of the New Zealand Horse Magic show, for an entertaining and educational presentation involving a variety of horse breeds.
- Cruising the Waikato River on MV Waipa Delta, Hamilton
- Waikato Museum, Hamilton
- Waitomo glow-worm caves
- Black-water rafting, Waitomo Caves
- The Lost World, Waitomo Caves
- Raglan Beach, New Zealand's legendary surf spot
- Rose gardens, Te Awamutu
- Bloodstock/stud farms, Matamata
- Tandem or solo skydiving
- Visit Firth Tower Historical Museum - an authentically furnished farm homestead and worker's cottage circa 1900
- Hamilton - main centre for the rich Waikato pastoral region and location of Waikato University
- Cambridge - an attractive leafy rural town and centre of bloodstock industry
- Te Awamutu - known for its rose gardens and arts and crafts
- Waitomo Caves Village - home of thrilling caving and adventure activities
- Matamata - thoroughbred horse racing centre of New Zealand
- Te Aroha - relaxing hot mineral pools