Words and images courtesy of ANZCRO.
Whatever you’re into, you’ll find heaps to explore in Waikato, from world-famous gardens in the beautiful city of Hamilton, to incredible outdoor adventures, adrenaline-packed experiences and some of New Zealand’s best surfing. There is something to enjoy all year round, but spring and summer are a particularly glorious time to visit.
Here are seven of our favourite reasons to visit magical Waikato.
Hobbiton Movie Set
Take a journey to Middle Earth to explore the world’s largest and most iconic movie set at Hobbiton. This 12-acre marvel was used to film The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, and today you can take an incredible guided tour of its rolling valleys to see what Hobbit-life is like at Bilbo’s place at Bag End. Cap off your tour with an ale by the fire or in the beer garden at the legendary Green Dragon Inn or feast like a Hobbit with one of their delicious dining experiences.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Leave the bright lights of the city behind and wonder at a totally unique natural light show in the subterranean wonderland at Waitomo. The caves here are home to thousands of tiny glowworms, found only in New Zealand. Inside, you can bask in the amazing blue glow of the glowworm grotto as you take a magical boat ride down the river, with storytelling provided by your expert local guide. Truly unmissable. For the more adventurous, black water rafting, abseiling and ziplining are also on offer in this underground playground.
Aotearoa’s coolest beach town is home to one of the longest left-hand surf breaks in the world. Raglan is beloved for its laid-back vibe and artistic community, with great cafes and bars to explore in town. There are also plenty of walks and adventures to get into in the beautiful green countryside that surrounds this idyllic place. Perhaps New Zealand’s best kept secret, a visit to Raglan is one that will live long in your memory.
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is both a remarkable achievement and an unblemished paradise. At 3400 hectares, it’s the largest fenced nature sanctuary in New Zealand. With its 47km long pest-proof fence keeping out predators, the sanctuary is home to a wide variety of native flora and fauna, including Kiwi and Tuatara that thrive in this special place. With over 400 dedicated volunteers helping to preserve the environment on the maunga (mountain), this is a happy place for any nature lover. Various guided tours of the forest and wetlands are available.
Likened to a living museum, a breathtaking selection of themed gardens wow more than a million visitors each year at Hamilton Gardens. With more than 25 immaculately crafted gardens to explore, it’s little wonder this award-winning collection is known by garden lovers all over the globe. Take a journey through time and take in gardens inspired by cultures from Italy to India, England to Japan and beyond, or marvel at the new Surrealist Garden where things are five times their normal size. We recommend allowing a few hours for your visit to NZ’s most stunning gardens.
The mighty Waikato River is New Zealand’s longest, flowing from Mount Ruapehu, through Lake Taupō to the legendary Huka Falls and out to the sea at Port Waikato. So, where will your river adventure take you? Kayaking under a glowworm galaxy on one of the river’s hydro lakes? Family-friendly jetboat rides near Cambridge? Or perhaps cycling across suspension bridges and boardwalks on the Waikato River Trails? The choice is yours.
Hamilton City Escape
Explore cosmopolitan Hamilton at your own pace as you soak up the history and vibrant culture of the beating heart of the central North Island. Take a river cruise and enjoy lunch by the waterfront, or explore the city’s laneways and micro-breweries. To a real treat, indulge in the signature high tea at Zealong Tea Estate, where you’ll find gourmet treats served with traditional teas and incredible views over the green pastures of Waikato.
Contact your local Travellers Choice agent
to book your trip to the Mighty Waikato today and see why this is a place where magic runs deep.