28 April 2020 | Written by Lydia Twohill

Top 9 things to do in Waikato

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Top 9 things to do in Waikato

The Waikato region is located on the West coast of the North Island and is host to a multitude of NZ must-do’s! The landscape ranges from wild west coast surf to farmlands, with the mighty Waikato River flowing through the centre. There’s so many things to do in the Waikato, from world class surf in Raglan, to an underground labyrinth of glow worms and black water rafting in the Waitomo Caves and the lush pastures of Hobbiton in Matamata.

We’ve taken some of the guesswork of where to start with your Waikato bucket list and found the 9 best things to do in Waikato…


1. Venture into Middle Earth – Matamata

Photo credit: iStock.com/Marlene Jamett

Step into the heart of the Shire! For an enchanting and whimsical behind the scenes experience look no further than Hobbiton. Take a guided tour and explore Peter Jackson’s movie set, gaining fascinating insight into the filming, mechanics involved and all 17 hobbit holes. There are numerous different tour experiences,including the option to take a guided tour at dusk, fishing with a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit being served inside The Green Dragon Inn – talk about majestic! 


2. Hamilton Gardens

Photo credit: iStock.com/Boyloso

Delve into some of New Zealand’s most spectacular flora and fauna at The Hamilton Gardens. A magical destination year-round, you’ll discover garden traditions from all over the world as you work your way through the multitude of landscapes. Positioned right next to the mighty Waikato river, expect gorgeous misty scenes in the morning and tranquil serenity at dusk. Definitely a must for any budding photographer!


3. Hamilton Zoo

Photo credit: unsplash.com/@andowa

One for the animal lovers! As well as being home to over 600 native and exotic animals, the zoo also boasts the most extensive free-flight aviary in NZ. be sure to coincide your visit with one of their ‘Meet the Keeper’ talks (held every day of the week), to learn more about the zoo’s inhabitants, conservation work and if you’re lucky the chat may involve an animal feeding session!


4. Bridal Veil Falls – Raglan

Photo credit: unsplash.com/@dav_billings

A bucket list experience when visiting Raglan, the Bridal Veil Falls are like something out of Jurassic Park. A relatively leisurely 10-minute stroll through gorgeous native bush will bring you to two viewing platforms at the top – providing sensational scenic views. An awesome spot for a photo with one spectacular backdrop of the plunging white falls surrounded by green bush and grey rock. If you’re keen you can traverse a steep set of stairs leading to the bottom of the falls, where you can take in another excellent view – this time looking across the pool and up at the falls. It’s worth noting that the first section of the track leading to the top lookouts is accessible for assisted wheelchairs and buggies.


5. Manu Bay Surf Break – Raglan

Photo credit: unsplash.com/@anja_r

Well known as one of the world’s most sublime surfing spots, Manu Bay provides a long left-hand break on a boulder beach. It’s often said that this is the longest and most consistent left-hand break in the world, hence it’s no wonder why the spot is so popular and home to several international surfing competitions each year. Even if you’re not keen on learning to surf or are already an expert, it’s an epic scene to watch keen surfers ride the waves.


6. Ngarunui Beach – Raglan

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Raglan absolutely delivers when it comes to coastal treasures. Ngarunui is a stunning stretch of blackdand surf beach, providing the perfect spot to swim, sunbathe or learn to surf. It also happens to be an idyllic spot to park up at sunset and watch the sun dip down behind the wild waves, turning the beach a magnificent orange – we promise it’s a golden hour to remember! There’s also an area of the beach that is patrolled by surf life savers from October through April for safe swimming.


7. Karioi Summit Tracks – Raglan

Photo credit: unsplash.com/@nzdoug16

Conquer Karioi! We won’t lie, you’ll need to be up for a physical challenge for this one – best rest assured you’ll be well-rewarded. There are two tracks up to the summit of Karioi, allowing keen hikers to do a mountain crossing, or a return trip on either side. The tracks are exposed and quite steep at times, but you’ll find chains and ladders in areas where assistance is needed with the ascent. As you climb this forest-cals extinct volcano, you’ll get to enjoy ascending through lush Waikato farmland one one side, whilst looking out over the Tasman Sea on the other. On a crystal clear day you’ll even be able to spot the four peaks of Mt Taranaki, Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe!


8. Raglan Roast Coffee

If you’re a coffee fein, then you’re in luck! Raglan is home to some of New Zealand’s best coffee and it would be criminal to not try this excellent drip while you’re there. Over the past 16 years the business has grown from very humble beginnings (originating at the back of a kite-shop in Raglan), to now working with the best coffee brewing and grinding equipment available – producing incredible coffee! They roast daily to ensure the freshest of coffees. A must-try.


9. Waitomo Caves

Photo credit: iStock.com/MarcelStrelow

An undoubtedly world-renowned destination in New Zealand, the glow worm studded Waitomo caves are one of the best things to do in the Waikato. Famous for their abundance of glow worms, impressive stalagmite stalactites formations and extensive underground river network. There’s something for everyone when visiting, from relaxed cruises through the glow-worm lit caverns, to black water rafting catering for the adrenalin junkies in your group. Kids and adults alike will be in awe of the sparkling glow worms twinkling above. The Ruakuri Cave is also wheelchair accessible, allowing the entire whanau to experience the magic of Waitomo.


There truly is something for everyone in this region of the country! Why not tick off some of the awesome things to do in Waikato and make memories that will last a lifetime? Check out our waikato holiday homes and book a getaway to look forward to.


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