North Waikato

The river runs deep and so does the spirit in the north Waikato, with its rich history and remarkable stories.

Don't Miss

  1. Picnic beside Hakanoa Lake
  2. Climb the Hakarimata Ranges
  3. Do a tandem skydive
  4. Woodlands Historical Homestead
  5. Zealong Tea Plantation
  6. Nikau Caves
  7. Hampton Downs Motorsport Park
  8. Waikato War historic locations
  9. Long stretching beaches of Port Waikato
  10. Order an Ice-cream as big as your face in Pokeno

Steeped in history and culture the North Waikato showcases the region’s uniquely significant Maori and European heritage. Home of the Maori King and the Kingitanga movement, historical landmarks and battle sites can be found throughout the area. The area’s rich mineral deposits mean it was, and still is, a significant source of the nation’s power - first with coal mining and now with thermal power.

In the North Waikato bush-clad mountains make way for rugged coastlines and the mighty Waikato River as it makes its way to the sea, while small towns and villages dot the landscape with an eclectic lineup of shops, cafes and churches.

Things to see and do in North Waikato

At the Hakarimata Range, in Ngaruawahia, 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 Savour the Taste, 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 Tuakau 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 Ngaruawahia 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.

Ngaruawahia is also the home of the Kingitanga (Maori 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

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