• New Zealand Regions
      • Hawke's Bay
      • Bay of Plenty
      • Waikato
      • Whanganui
      • Manawatu
      • Northland
      • Auckland
      • Gisborne
      • Taranaki
      • Wellington
      • West Coast
      • Nelson
      • Canterbury
      • Otago
      • Marlborough
      • Southland
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      Hawke's Bay

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      Beaches, wineries and Art Deco. The Hawke's Bay has a diverse economy, including business services that support its sectors to be the second largest contributor to regional GDP in the country. A popular tourist destination, the region has some of the countries best restaurants as well as stunning scenery, markets and festivals.

      Districts

      HastingsNapier

      Bay of Plenty

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      The Bay of Plenty is officially New Zealand's sunniest destination, enjoying short-lived winters and long summer days. The Region offers some of the country's most spectacular views and many ways to enjoy the pristine scenery and natural wonders. Visitors also enjoy exploring the Bay's Māori heritage and pre-European roots.

      Districts

      OpotikiOpotiki iSiteKawerauWhakatane

      Waikato

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      The Waikato is known for its rolling plains, fertile land and the mighty Waikato River. The region is the fourth largest regional economy in New Zealand, with a strong focus on primary production and associated manufacturing.

      Districts

      South WaikatoWaikato District

      Whanganui

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      Welcome to Whanganui. This is our place; where history is full of stories, legends and rich legacy. Where a thriving arts scene, creativity and evolving culture inspire our modern lives. Where breath-taking natural landscapes capture imaginations at every turn.

      Manawatu

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      Located in the lower North Island, Manawatu is heartland New Zealand, offering an authentic Kiwi experience.

      The main in the region are Palmerston North, most notable for Massey University. Palmerston has a vibrant, arts and culture scene.

      The region's economy is based on food production and processing, research and education. The region is also home for the New Zealand defence force.

      Northland

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      Northland was originally home to some of our country's first human inhabitants. Today, it is one of the fastest growing regions in New Zealand and home to nearly 189,000 people. Rich in culture and history, the region boasts a stunning natural environment.

      Auckland

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      Auckland Region stretches from the the beaches of the Pacific Ocean in the east to the expansive beaches of the rugged west coast of the Tasman Sea. Auckland City, the largest urban area in New Zealand is considered the main economic center of New Zealand and a popular destination for international students and travellers.

      Gisborne

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      Gisborne is a Region on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. It's known for wineries and surf beaches such as Makorori. The region has maintained a strong Maori heritage. The region's economy is made up mainly of agriculture, horticulture and forestry.

      Taranaki

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      Taranaki is a coastal and mountainous region on the western side of New Zealand's North Island. Its landscape is dominated by Mount Taranaki, its namesake volcano, which lies within the rainforested Egmont National Park.

      The port city of New Plymouth is the area's cultural and commercial hub. Taranaki's economy is diverse and includes dairy, oil and gas. The region is the highest contributor or national GDP per capita. 

      Wellington

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      The Wellington Region covers Wellington city in the south, Upper and Lower Hutt valleys to the north-east, and Porirua to the north-west. The region takes its name from Wellington, New Zealand's capital city.

      Wellington is famous for its arts and culture scene and is also the centre of New Zealand's film industry.

      West Coast

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      The West Coast, or as some locals call it, the "Wild West", is a long thin region that runs down the South Island's west coast.

      The region has the lowest population in all of New Zealand. It is famous for its rugged natural scenery such as the Pancake Rocks, the Blue Pools of Haast, and the glaciers.

      The main industries in the region are dairy farming and mining. Tourism also plays an important role.

      Nelson – Tasman

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      Nelson Tasman is an extraordinary, vibrant region where art and businesses thrive together among a stunning natural landscape. With one in five people internationally born, Nelson Tasman has 48 different cultures living in its environs.

      The region prides its self on being New Zealand’s leading Research and Development areas, with the highest proportion of people working in the research, science and tech sectors out of anywhere in New Zealand.

      Canterbury

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      Canterbury is a region on New Zealand’s South Island marked by grassy plains, clear lakes and snow-capped mountains. Its largest city, Christchurch, is famed for its art scene and green spaces.

      Otago

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      There are few places in the world which will leave you with a lasting sense of difference. Central Otago is undoubtedly one of them from its landscapes, its seasons, its people, its products and experiences.

      Marlborough

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      Marlborough Region is on the north-eastern corner of the South Island. The region is well known for its winemaking industry, and the Marlborough Sounds, an extensive network of coastal waterways, peninsulas and islands.

      Apart from the wine industry, aquaculture, agriculture and tourism play an important role in the local economy.

      Southland

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      Southland is New Zealand’s most southerly region and includes the World Heritage ranked Fiordland National Park.

      The region's only city Invercargill offers a relaxed pace of life with wide streets, little traffic, spacious parks and gardens, striking Victorian and Edwardian architecture and impressive sporting facilities including New Zealand’s first indoor velodrome. Southland's location is such that views of Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights are common.

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Waikato

Waikato

The Waikato region is located on the North Island of New Zealand, and is a popular tourist destination for travelers seeking a unique and unforgettable experience. With its stunning natural landscapes, rich Maori culture, and vibrant cities, the Waikato region has something to offer everyone.

One of the main attractions of the Waikato region is its breathtaking scenery, which includes lush green rolling hills, sparkling lakes, and powerful waterfalls. Visitors can take a leisurely hike through the Waikato River Trails, a 100km path that winds through stunning landscapes and provides breathtaking views of the region’s natural beauty.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Waikato region is also home to some of the most significant cultural sites in New Zealand. Visitors can explore the Waitomo Caves, a series of underground caves that are home to thousands of glowing worms and offer a truly unique experience. The region is also home to many Maori cultural sites, including the Maori cultural center in Hamilton, where visitors can learn about Maori history, culture, and traditions.

The Waikato region is also home to several vibrant and bustling cities, including Hamilton, which is known for its great food, shopping, and entertainment options. Visitors can explore the Hamilton Gardens, which feature a variety of themed gardens and stunning displays of flowers and plants. Another popular attraction in the city is the Waikato Museum, which showcases the region’s rich cultural history and offers interactive exhibits that visitors of all ages will enjoy.

For those looking to experience the great outdoors, the Waikato region is the perfect destination. Visitors can go kayaking in the Waikato River, explore the region’s many nature reserves, or go on a thrilling adventure on the Waitomo River, which features thrilling rapids and stunning scenery.

Overall, the Waikato region is a must-see destination for any visitor to New Zealand, and especially for perspective Asian visitors looking for a unique and unforgettable travel experience. With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural history, and vibrant cities, the Waikato region is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits.

Our History

Our History

The Waikato region is located on the North Island of New Zealand and is named after the Waikato River, which flows through the heart of the region. The area has a rich history, dating back to the arrival of the first Polynesian settlers over a thousand years ago.

The first Polynesian settlers to arrive in the Waikato region were the ancestors of the Maori people. Maori legend tells the story of the arrival of the Tainui waka (canoe), which landed at Port Waikato, an important trading hub for Maori. Over time, the Waikato region became home to numerous Maori tribes, including Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Raukawa, and Ngati Whaoa. A number of these tribes formed a confederation known as the Waikato-Tainui, which was led by a high chief known as the Maori King or Queen.

In the 19th century, European colonizers began to arrive in New Zealand, and tensions between Maori and the British government grew. In 1863, the British government launched a military campaign against the Maori in the Waikato region, known as the Waikato War.

The war was fought over land disputes, as the British government sought to acquire more land for European settlement. The Waikato-Tainui, led by their king, Te Wherowhero, fought to protect their ancestral lands. The war was a devastating loss for the Waikato-Tainui, as their lands were confiscated by the British government and their people were forced to flee. Many Maori were killed, and their homes and crops were destroyed.

Despite the loss of their lands and the devastating effects of colonization, the Waikato-Tainui remained resilient and determined to preserve their culture and traditions. In 1922, a new Maori King was elected, and the Maori King Movement was revived.

During the 20th century, the Waikato region became an important center of industry and agriculture. The city of Hamilton, which is located in the heart of the Waikato region, became a major hub for dairy farming and processing. The region also became an important center for hydroelectric power generation, with several large dams built along the Waikato River.

In the 21st century, the Waikato region has continued to grow and evolve, with a strong focus on sustainable development and preserving the region’s natural beauty. The region is home to several world-renowned tourist attractions, including the Waitomo Caves, which attract visitors from around the globe.

In recent years, the Waikato region has also become a major center for innovation and technology, with several high-tech companies choosing to set up operations in the area. The region is home to Waikato Innovation Park, which provides support for start-ups and small businesses, as well as several research institutes and technology hubs.

Today, the Waikato region is a vibrant and thriving part of New Zealand, with a rich history and a bright future. The region is home to a diverse and multicultural population, and its economy is driven by a variety of industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and technology. Despite the challenges of the past, the people of the Waikato region remain resilient and determined to build a bright and prosperous future for themselves and future generations.

Top 10 activities

Top 10 activities

The Waikato region in New Zealand is home to some of the most stunning natural landscapes and tourist attractions in the country. From the famous Waitomo Caves to the beautiful Hamilton Gardens, there is no shortage of activities to keep visitors entertained. In this article, we will introduce the top 10 tourist activities to do in the Waikato, including what they are, where they are located, why visitors should go there, opening hours, who are the operators involved, and indicative costs.

Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Caves are an iconic attraction located in the Waikato region. This natural wonder draws visitors from all over the world to marvel at the stunning formations and unique glowworms found within the cave system.

Located about 2.5 hours south of Auckland, the Waitomo Caves are made up of a complex network of underground limestone caverns and tunnels. The caves were formed over millions of years through the slow erosion of limestone rock by water. Visitors can explore these underground wonders through a variety of tours offered by the Waitomo Caves operators.

One of the main draws of the Waitomo Caves are the thousands of tiny glowworms that inhabit the caves. These bioluminescent creatures create a magical display, as their glowing bodies light up the dark caverns. Visitors can witness this natural spectacle by taking a guided boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto.

The Waitomo Caves are open year-round, with tours running from early morning until late evening. The operators offer a range of tour options, from a basic 45-minute guided walk to more adventurous options like abseiling and blackwater rafting. Prices vary depending on the tour and age of the visitor, but expect to pay around NZD $50-$100 for the basic tours.

In addition to the caves themselves, the Waitomo Caves area offers a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, caving, and kayaking. There are also several accommodation options available in the area, ranging from basic campsites to luxury lodges.

Hobbiton Movie Set

Hobbiton is a popular tourist attraction located in Matamata. It is the set of the Shire, home of the hobbits in the iconic Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie trilogies.

The Hobbiton Movie Set is a faithful recreation of the hobbit village seen in the movies, complete with hobbit holes, gardens, and even the Green Dragon Inn. Visitors can take a guided tour of the set, which includes fascinating insights into how the movies were made and the attention to detail that went into creating this magical world. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who can answer any questions you may have about the filming process or the story.

Hobbiton is a popular attraction for both movie fans and non-fans alike. Visitors can immerse themselves in the stunning scenery, beautiful gardens, and charming hobbit houses. The Hobbiton Movie Set is open daily, and the tours depart every 30 minutes from the Shire’s Rest Cafe. The tours are timed to coincide with the different lighting conditions, so you can experience the set at different times of the day.

The Hobbiton Movie Set is operated by Hobbiton Movie Set Tours, and tickets can be purchased online or at the Shire’s Rest Cafe. Prices vary depending on the type of tour and age of the visitor, but expect to pay around NZD $84-$234 for the standard tours. There are also private tours available for those who want a more exclusive experience.

Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton Gardens is a beautifully designed public park located in Hamilton, New Zealand. The gardens cover an area of 54 hectares and feature a variety of different themed gardens, each with its unique features and design.

The gardens are a popular attraction for both locals and tourists alike. Visitors can stroll through the various themed gardens, which range from the Japanese Garden, Italian Renaissance Garden, and the Indian Char Bagh Garden. The gardens are perfect for relaxing, picnicking, and exploring with family and friends.

Hamilton Gardens are open to the public every day of the year from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm, and admission is free. The gardens are operated by the Hamilton City Council, who maintain the gardens to the highest standard. Guided tours are also available for those who want to learn more about the history and design of the gardens.

The gardens also host a variety of events and activities throughout the year, such as the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival, music performances, and food festivals. These events are an excellent opportunity to experience the gardens in a unique and exciting way.

Raglan Beach

Raglan Beach is a stunning black sand beach located on the west coast of the North Island. Raglan is known as the surfing capital of New Zealand and is a popular destination for surfers from all over the world.

The beach is nestled in a picturesque coastal town and boasts consistent surf breaks, making it a surfer’s paradise. However, even if you’re not into surfing, Raglan Beach is still a beautiful place to visit. The beach is surrounded by lush green hills and has a relaxed and bohemian atmosphere that makes it perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

Raglan Beach is open all year round, and there is no admission fee to access the beach. There are plenty of operators in the area offering surfing lessons and equipment hire for those who want to hit the waves. The town also has a variety of cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops, making it a great place to grab a bite to eat or do some shopping.

Hamilton Zoo

Hamilton Zoo is a popular family-friendly attraction located in the heart of Hamilton city. The zoo covers an area of 25 hectares and is home to over 600 native and exotic animals.

The zoo is divided into different themed zones, including the African Savannah, South East Asia, and the New Zealand Aviary. Visitors can get up close and personal with the animals through daily animal encounters, feeding sessions, and behind-the-scenes tours.

Hamilton Zoo is open every day of the year from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, except for Christmas Day. Admission fees vary depending on age and residency status, with discounts available for groups and families.

The zoo is operated by Hamilton City Council, who are dedicated to the conservation and protection of endangered species. They work closely with other zoos and conservation organizations to breed and release animals back into their natural habitats.

Te Aroha Mineral Spas

Te Aroha Mineral Spas are a popular tourist attraction located in the town of Te Aroha. The spas are famous for their natural mineral water, which is said to have therapeutic properties that can help relieve stress and improve overall health.

Visitors to the Te Aroha Mineral Spas can enjoy a range of treatments, including soaking in the outdoor mineral pools, indulging in a luxurious spa treatment, or enjoying a relaxing massage. The spas are set in a picturesque location, surrounded by lush greenery and stunning mountain views.

Te Aroha Mineral Spas are open seven days a week, from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm. The operators of the spas are dedicated to providing visitors with a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, and are committed to using only natural and organic products.

The cost of admission varies depending on the type of treatment or package that visitors choose, with options available to suit all budgets.

Te Aroha Mineral Spas are a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, and are a great way to unwind and de-stress while enjoying the natural beauty of the Waikato region. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a fun day out with friends, the Te Aroha Mineral Spas are a must-visit attraction.

Cathedral Cove Walk

Cathedral Cove is a stunning natural landmark located on the Coromandel Peninsula. The cove is famous for its picturesque rock archway and crystal-clear waters, which attract visitors from all over the world.

To reach Cathedral Cove, visitors must take a scenic hike through the lush native bushland of the Hahei Coastal Walkway. Along the way, visitors can take in the breathtaking views of the coastline and the surrounding islands.

Cathedral Cove is a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking, with the clear waters providing an ideal environment for spotting a variety of marine life, including fish, stingrays, and even dolphins.

The cove is open to visitors year-round, with no admission fee required. However, it’s important to note that there are no facilities at Cathedral Cove, so visitors should bring their own food, water, and supplies.

Cathedral Cove is a truly stunning destination that offers visitors the chance to experience the natural beauty of New Zealand’s North Island. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or simply looking for a peaceful getaway, Cathedral Cove is a must-visit attraction that should not be missed.

Huka Falls

Huka Falls is a breathtaking waterfall located on the Waikato River. The falls are known for their striking blue-green water and powerful rush, which makes them one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Waikato region.

The waterfalls are easily accessible from the town of Taupo, located just a few kilometers away. Visitors can take a leisurely walk along the scenic Huka Falls Walkway, which offers stunning views of the falls and the surrounding landscape.

There are various ways to experience Huka Falls, including jet boat rides, kayaking, and scenic helicopter tours. These activities provide visitors with an up-close and exhilarating view of the falls and the surrounding natural beauty.

Huka Falls are open to visitors year-round, with no admission fee required. Visitors can access the falls at any time of the day or night, although it’s recommended to visit during daylight hours for the best experience.

Orakei Korako Cave & Termal Park

Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park is a geothermal wonderland located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, just a short drive from Rotorua and Taupo. The park is renowned for its bubbling hot springs, steaming geysers, and unique volcanic formations, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Waikato region.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the park, which includes a boat ride across the lake to the start of the walking track. Along the way, visitors can witness the incredible geothermal activity up close, including the famous Champagne Pool and the Artist’s Palette. The park also features a geothermal cave, where visitors can explore the unique underground formations and marvel at the natural beauty.

Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park is open daily from 8:30am to 4:00pm, with admission prices ranging from $36 for adults to $12 for children.

The park is operated by a local Maori tribe, who offer cultural experiences and storytelling as part of the tour. This provides visitors with a unique insight into the rich cultural history of the region, making it an even more unforgettable experience. With its stunning natural beauty and cultural significance, Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Waikato region.

Hot water beach

Hot Water Beach is a popular attraction located on the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. As the name suggests, this beach is renowned for its natural hot springs that bubble up through the sand. Visitors can dig their own hot pool by the shore, creating a unique and memorable experience.

The hot water is created by geothermal activity under the ground that heats up the water as it rises to the surface. The best time to visit is during low tide, when the hot water pools are more easily accessible. Visitors can bring their own shovels or rent them from nearby businesses.

Hot Water Beach is a beautiful and unique attraction that draws visitors from all over the world. It’s a great place to relax, unwind, and soak up the stunning scenery while enjoying the warm and therapeutic waters. There are also several nearby cafes and shops that provide refreshments and souvenirs for visitors.

While there are no operators for this natural attraction, there are a few accommodations in the area, ranging from camping sites to luxury resorts. There is no cost to visit the beach, but there may be fees for parking and equipment rental. Overall, Hot Water Beach is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a one-of-a-kind experience in New Zealand.

 
Walking, Hiking & Biking

Walking, Hiking & Biking

The Waikato region is a treasure trove for outdoor enthusiasts, with a wide range of walking, hiking, and cycling trails for all skill levels. Here are some of the most popular trails to explore in the region:

  1. Te Awa River Ride – This 70km cycleway and walkway runs alongside the Waikato River and is a great way to see some of the region’s stunning landscapes. The trail passes through several towns and villages, including Cambridge, Hamilton, and Ngaruawahia, and is suitable for riders of all levels. There are several bike hire providers along the trail, including AvantiPlus and The Bikery, with bike rentals ranging from $30-$60 for half-day hire.

  2. Mount Te Aroha Summit Track – This challenging 6km return hike leads to the summit of Mount Te Aroha, offering panoramic views of the surrounding region. The trail begins at the Te Aroha Mineral Spas and takes around 3-4 hours to complete. There are several tour operators in the area, including Te Aroha i-SITE, which offers guided hikes and costs around $50 per person.

  3. Hakarimata Summit Track – This popular hiking trail near Ngaruawahia takes you through native forest and up a series of steep stairs to the summit, where you can enjoy stunning views of the Waikato region. The trail is 6.4km return and takes around 3-4 hours to complete. There is no cost to access the trail, and it is open year-round.

  4. Wairere Falls Track – This 5.4km return hike near Matamata leads to the base of the Wairere Falls, which is one of the tallest waterfalls in the North Island. The trail passes through native forest and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. There is no cost to access the trail, and it is open year-round.

  5. Kakepuku Mountain Track – This 3km return hike near Te Awamutu leads to the summit of Kakepuku Mountain, offering stunning views of the Waikato region. The trail is suitable for all ages and takes around 1-2 hours to complete. There is no cost to access the trail, and it is open year-round.

  6. Pirongia Mountain Track – This challenging 17km return hike near Te Awamutu leads to the summit of Pirongia Mountain, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The trail passes through native forest and is suitable for experienced hikers. There is no cost to access the trail, and it is open year-round.

  7. Karangahake Gorge – This historic walkway near Paeroa follows an old railway line and offers stunning views of the Karangahake Gorge. The trail is 7km one-way and takes around 2-3 hours to complete. There are several tour operators in the area, including Hauraki Rail Trail, which offers guided walks and costs around $30 per person.

  8. Waikato River Trails – This 100km cycleway and walkway follows the Waikato River and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The trail passes through several towns and villages, including Mangakino, Lake Karapiro, and Arapuni, and is suitable for riders of all levels. There are several bike hire providers along the trail, including Lake District Adventures and Adventure Waikato, with bike rentals ranging from $30-$60 for half-day hire.

  9. Blue Spring Track – This 5.5km return hike near Putaruru leads to the source of the Waihou River, where you can see the crystal-clear waters of the Blue Spring. The trail passes through native

Family Fun

Family Fun

The Waikato region is an ideal destination for family groups looking for fun-filled and educational activities. Located in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, the region offers a variety of activities for all ages, from outdoor adventures to cultural experiences.

One of the most popular family attractions in the Waikato is Hobbiton, the movie set used in the filming of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Families can take a guided tour through the enchanting hobbit village, complete with hobbit holes, gardens, and a visit to the Green Dragon Inn.

For families who love animals, the Hamilton Zoo is a must-visit. The zoo is home to a wide variety of animals, including tigers, giraffes, chimpanzees, and many more. Children will love the interactive exhibits, including the farmyard and the playground.

Another great family attraction is the Hamilton Gardens, which offers a unique blend of nature and culture. The gardens are divided into themed areas, such as the Italian Renaissance Garden, the Chinese Scholars Garden, and the Japanese Garden of Contemplation. Families can take a stroll through the gardens and enjoy the beautiful scenery, or attend one of the many events and festivals held throughout the year.

Families looking for outdoor adventures can head to Raglan Beach, which is known for its great surfing and boogie boarding. The beach also offers opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and kiteboarding. The Te Aroha Mineral Spas are another great option for families, offering relaxing hot mineral pools and spa treatments.

For families interested in history and culture, the Waikato region has plenty of options. The Waitomo Caves, for example, offer a unique underground adventure, where families can explore the stunning limestone formations and glowworm caves. Families can also visit the Maori Rock Carvings in Taupo.

A weekend itinerary

A Weekend Itinerary

Here are three itineries for a weekend visit to the Waikato.

For those on a tight budget

Day 1:

  • Morning: Visit Hamilton Gardens (Free)
  • Lunch: Pack a picnic or head to a local bakery for an affordable lunch option (e.g. Bread and Butter Bakery in Hamilton)
  • Afternoon: Take a hike at the Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park (Free)
  • Evening: Explore the local street art scene in Hamilton CBD (Free)

Day 2:

  • Morning: Visit the Waitomo Caves and take a self-guided tour of the Ruakuri Walk (NZD $15.50 for adults)
  • Lunch: Pack a picnic or grab a bite at the Waitomo Glowworm Cafe (Affordable options available)
  • Afternoon: Visit Marokopa Falls (Free)
  • Evening: Enjoy a campfire and stargazing at Pureora Forest Park (Free)

Weekend Itinerary for Medium Spenders

Day 1:

  • Morning: Visit Hobbiton Movie Set and take a guided tour (NZD $84 for adults)
  • Lunch: Enjoy a meal at The Green Dragon Inn (Affordable options available)
  • Afternoon: Visit the Hamilton Zoo (NZD $29 for adults)
  • Evening: Enjoy dinner at Gothenburg Restaurant in Hamilton (NZD $30-$50 per person)

Day 2:

  • Morning: Take a hot air balloon ride over the Waikato region with Balloons Over Waikato (NZD $395 per person)
  • Lunch: Visit Zealong Tea Estate for high tea (NZD $39 per person)
  • Afternoon: Go kayaking on Lake Karapiro (NZD $55 per person)
  • Evening: Enjoy a wine tasting and dinner at Vilagrads Winery (NZD $50-$100 per person)

Weekend Itinerary for Luxury Travellers

Day 1:

  • Morning: Arrive at Waikato River Lodge and enjoy breakfast with views of the Waikato River (NZD $25 per person)
  • Lunch: Visit the Woodbox Cafe and enjoy a gourmet lunch (NZD $30-$50 per person)
  • Afternoon: Take a private helicopter tour over the Waitomo Caves and Raglan (NZD $2,500 for up to 6 people)
  • Evening: Enjoy dinner at The Tasting Shed in Hamilton (NZD $100-$200 per person)

Day 2:

  • Morning: Enjoy a spa treatment at the Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari Eco Resort (NZD $200-$500 per person)
  • Lunch: Take a private picnic at Cathedral Cove (NZD $350 for up to 4 people)
  • Afternoon: Visit Hobbiton Movie Set for a private tour and sunset banquet (NZD $10,000 for up to 20 people)
  • Evening: Return to Waikato River Lodge for a private chef-prepared dinner (NZD $500-$1,000 per person)
 
Events

Events

The Waikato region of New Zealand is a hub of cultural and artistic activity, with a variety of festivals, events, and expos taking place throughout the year. From music and food to agriculture and sports, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top events in the region.

The National Agricultural Fieldays is one of the largest agricultural expos in the southern hemisphere and is held annually in June in the town of Mystery Creek. It is a four-day event that attracts more than 130,000 visitors and features over 1,000 exhibitors from New Zealand and around the world. Visitors can expect to see the latest farming equipment, products and services, attend seminars and demonstrations, and network with industry professionals.

Another event that draws crowds to the Waikato is the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival, which is held annually in February. The festival showcases a variety of artistic performances, including music, theatre, dance, and comedy. It is a vibrant celebration of creativity, and visitors can enjoy performances from local and international artists in the stunning setting of the Hamilton Gardens.

For sports fans, the Gallagher Chiefs rugby team is a must-see attraction. The Chiefs play their home games at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton, and the atmosphere at these games is electric. Rugby is the national sport of New Zealand, and the Chiefs have a passionate following in the Waikato region.

Foodies will love the annual Waikato Food and Wine Festival, which is held in March at the Claudelands Events Centre in Hamilton. This festival brings together some of the best food and drink producers from the Waikato and beyond, with visitors able to sample a range of delicious treats, from craft beer and wine to artisan cheeses and gourmet pies.

Music lovers won’t be disappointed with the Soundsplash Music Festival, which is held annually in January in Raglan. The festival features a lineup of local and international musicians, playing a range of genres from rock to reggae, and attracts a diverse crowd of music fans.

Finally, the annual Balloons over Waikato festival is a highlight of the region’s calendar. This event is held annually in March in Hamilton and is a celebration of hot air ballooning. The festival includes a range of activities, including a balloon night glow, where hot air balloons are illuminated at night, and a mass balloon launch where dozens of balloons take off at the same time.

Culture and Heritage

Culture and Heritage

The Waikato region is rich in culture and heritage, with a deep connection to the land and its people. From Maori traditions to colonial history, there is a wealth of experiences for visitors to explore.

One of the most significant cultural attractions in the Waikato is the Maori King Movement, which originated in the region and still holds great importance today. Visitors can learn about the history of the movement at the Waikato Museum in Hamilton, which has a dedicated exhibition on the subject. Another important Maori attraction is the Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia, the spiritual home of the Maori King where visitors can experience a powhiri (welcoming ceremony) and learn about Maori culture.

The region is also home to numerous historic sites from the colonial era, including the stunning Hamilton Gardens. The gardens are set over 58 hectares and feature themed garden collections, including a Tudor Garden and a Chinese Garden. The gardens also have a dedicated Te Parapara Maori garden which showcases traditional Maori horticulture.

Other important cultural sites in the Waikato include the Te Awamutu Museum, which explores the history of the town and surrounding area, and the Waitomo Caves Discovery Centre, which tells the story of the caves and their importance to the Maori people.

For those interested in the arts, the Waikato is home to several galleries and museums showcasing local and national artists. The Wallace Gallery in Morrinsville features contemporary New Zealand art, while the Waikato Museum has a range of exhibitions on local history and art.

In addition to cultural attractions, the Waikato also hosts a range of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Waikato Show, the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival, and the Kawhia Kai Festival. These events provide a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the region’s culture and heritage through food, music, and art.

Food!

Food!

The Waikato region is a foodie’s paradise, boasting a plethora of cafes, restaurants, bars, and farmers markets. With its rich agricultural history and diverse culture, it’s no wonder that the region has become a hub for artisan food and beverage offerings.

One of the best places to start exploring the local food scene is at the farmers markets that are held regularly throughout the region. The Hamilton Farmers’ Market, for example, is a must-visit for those looking to sample the region’s freshest produce, baked goods, and artisanal foods. It’s open every Sunday from 8 am to 12 noon at the Waikato Farmers Markets site in Hamilton.

For those looking to sample some of the region’s best cafes, there are plenty to choose from. One standout option is the Red Kitchen, located in Te Awamutu. This cosy cafe offers a variety of homemade baked goods and tasty brunch dishes that are sure to satisfy any appetite.

When it comes to restaurants, the Waikato region has plenty of options to choose from. One popular choice is Chim Choo Ree, an award-winning restaurant in Hamilton that offers a contemporary twist on classic European cuisine. Their locally sourced ingredients, expertly crafted dishes, and impressive wine list make it a favourite among locals and visitors alike.

For those looking for a night out on the town, there are plenty of bars and nightclubs to choose from in Hamilton. One popular spot is Housebar, located in the historic Wintec House building. This trendy bar offers a range of craft beers, cocktails, and tasty bites, all in a stylish setting.

For those looking to take home some of the region’s artisanal food and beverage offerings, there are plenty of options available. The Cambridge Farmers Market, for example, is a great place to stock up on fresh produce and artisanal food products. Alternatively, visitors can head to the Good George Brewing and Dining Hall in Hamilton, where they can purchase a range of locally brewed craft beers and ciders to take home.

 
 

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