The upper North Island region of Waikato was named after the longest river in New Zealand. Surrounded by rural landscapes, lush forests, and interesting towns and cities, this is an area offering a trove of great attractions.
Best Time to Visit
March to May in New Zealand is gorgeous. It’s one of the best times to plan your New Zealand vacation since the summer crowds have left, the attractions charge off peak rates, and the weather is amazing.
Top Places to Visit in Waikato
- Bridal Veil Falls
Also known by the Maori name Waireinga, the Bridal Veil Falls is a plunge waterfall located within easy reach of the popular beach town of Raglan. A quick walk up a well-formed track will give you a glimpse of this majestic cascade in all its 55-metre glory.
2. Wairere Falls
With an impressive 153-metre drop over two tiers, the Wairere Falls is the tallest in the North Island. A walking track through the lush Kaimai Ranges, between the towns of Te Aroha and Matamata, will unveil this waterfall’s finest features. While you’re exploring the surrounds, make sure to take time to admire the smaller cascades and streams you’ll encounter along the way.
3. The Blue Spring
In recent years, Te Waihou Walkway has seen a surge in popularity because of the beautiful bright blue coloured springs that run alongside. The aptly-named Blue Spring’s water is renowned for its purity – so much so, that this is one of the main sources for bottled water in New Zealand.
4. The Waikato River
The Waikato is New Zealand’s longest river: it runs through 425 kilometres (264 miles) of the North Island, rising in the eastern slopes of Mt Ruapehu and emptying into the Tasman Sea at Port Waikato just south of Auckland. Walking and cycling are the best ways to get the most from this mighty regional attraction – the Waikato River Trails, for instance, is a shared walk and cycleway that contours the entire length of the river.
5. Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo lies right in the midst of Waikato River, and is New Zealand’s largest lake by surface. It sits in the caldera of the Taupo Volcano, and is a travel hot-spot in the warmer months. Along with being the ideal place to get involved in watersports, Lake Taupo is a popular destination in New Zealand for bungy jumping.
Maungatautari is an eroded andesitic volcano near the Waikato town of Cambridge. It is also the site of one of New Zealand’s most significant ecological restoration projects, known as Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. The sanctuary relies on three fenced enclosures to house and protect the native flora and fauna that have been brought into it. Visitors can take guided tours of the area and explore the various walking tracks in its vicinity.
7. The Kaimai-Mamaku Forest
The Kaimai-Mamaku Forest is a forested area composed of several mountain ranges, that divide the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. Mount Te Aroha is its highest point, as well as being one of the key access points to the forest park on the Waikato side. A series of short walks and challenging hikes around Mt Te Aroha offer a good glimpse of the Kaimai-Mamaku ranges’ beautiful wetlands, rivers and historic sites.