The Waikato region, just to the south of Auckland, has many great things to see and do. Don't be tempted to rush through on your way to Rotorua, Lake Taupo or the Bay of Plenty. Here are ten things you shouldn't miss when you're in the district. Officially, the Thames-Coromandel and Taupo districts are part of the Waikato region; however included here are activities only for the main (and less visited) part of the area.
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Climb Mt Te Aroha
Mt Te Aroha is the highest peak in the Kaimai Ranges which separate the Waikato from the Bay of Plenty. The walk starts and ends in Te Aroha town. From the peak the views are amazing, encompassing the Coromandel Ranges, the Bay of Plenty coast (including Mt Maunganui) and as far south as Lake Taupo.
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Visit Hobbiton near Matamata
The original Hobbiton movie set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies is located on farmland near the small town of Matamata. Visit here to take in the atmosphere of the original Hobbiton and Middle Earth. Daily tours are available, including from Auckland
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Go Surfing at Raglan
Raglan is on the wild west coast of the North Island, just thirty minutes west of Hamilton. It is rated one of the best surf beaches in New Zealand and has the longest left-hand break in the world.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Walk or Cycle the Waikato River Trails
The Waikato River Trails is part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, Nga Haerenga, which is a network of trails throughout the country. This trail extends nearly 100 kilometers along the banks of the Waikato River. It begins near Lake Karapiro to the south of Cambridge and ends near the Atiamuri Dam. The trail is broken into sections, of varying difficulty.
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Walk in the Hamilton Gardens
The Hamilton Gardens are made up of a collection of smaller gardens and are a world class place to visit. They are on the southern part of Hamilton City, on the banks of the Waikato River. Entry is free.
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Cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail
Also part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, Nga Haerenga, this follows an old railway line and is an easy yet lovely ride. Several sections pass through the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty regions (including the beginning and the end) but there is a section near Te Aroha in the Waikato.
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Boat or Waterski on Lake Karapiro
Lake Karapiro is a part of the Waikato River which became widened into a 'lake' with the construction of one of the many dams along the river. It is popular with all sorts of water sports and is regarded as one of New Zealand's best rowing venues. The lake is situated just south of Cambridge, to the south of Hamilton.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Explore the Waitomo Caves
The Waitomo caves are world famous for their glowworms and magnificent galleries of stalactites, stalagmites, and other limestone formations. One of the best ways to see the caves is on an organized tour, which includes a boat ride underneath the glowworms themselves.
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