At the Hākarimata Range, in Ngāruawāhia, you can stand next to the largest kauri trees in the region or take on the infamous summit stairs on the southern side of the range, while those with subterranean tendencies can journey under the earth in the North Waikato and wonder at the untouched limestone formations and glowworms of Nikau Caves.
Foodies are catered for too with artisan producers such as Mercer Cheese, Te Kauwhata-based , Pepplers, Zealong Tea Estate and Wild Country fine foods. Not to mention Pokeno Bacon and the ‘world famous in New Zealand’ Pokeno ice-cream shop, where you can grab a 12 scoop ice-cream cone.
Plus don’t be surprised to hear the roar of engines as the area’s three motorsport facilities rev into action. The likes of Hampton Downs Motorsport Park host regular events including track days, which give you the chance to drive on the track and also boasts go-karts, an information centre and café. While the Meremere Dragway, Evergreen Driftpark and Huntly Speedway are also popular with locals and visitors alike. The annual fireworks display at Huntly Speedway is a must-see.
Throughout the rural landscape there are a raft of accommodation options, from bnb to glamping and the northernmost point at Castaways is a stunning wedding venue and glamping location.
The more northern towns of the North Waikato have equally as much to offer, from the charming town of Tūākau with its rural surrounds to the west coast beach of Port Waikato, an uncrowded spot popular with surfers and holiday makers, perfect for watching a spectacular sunsets.
Te Awa River Ride begins in Ngāruawāhia and keen cyclists can ride alongside and over the mighty Waikato river on the iconic green Perry Bridge onwards to Hamilton Gardens. This is an easy 2 hour ride and a wonderful way to view the Waikato river.
Ngāruawāhia is also the home of the Kingitanga (Māori King) Movement and also hosts the Turangawaewae Regatta each year, a celebration of waka and maoridom on the Waikato River.
How far to:
- Auckland: 93 kms - 1 hour
- Hamilton: 30 kms - 25 minutes