Find yourself in nature
There is no better place to feel the soothing effects of nature’s balm than in Waikato. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves and Ruakuri Cave both show off the marvels of our subterranean world, with stunning limestone formations and dazzling glowworms that will take your breath away.
There is room to breathe and ample space across the Waikato to soak in nature with a number of walking trails, tracks and experiences dotted throughout - from casual strolls along the river to overnight bush excursions and winding mountain tracks with stunning scenic vistas.
If rolling hills and country streams are more your speed, the Mangapohue Natural Bridge walk is a short track filled with well-maintained boardwalks and the odd swing bridge. Consisting of two limestone rock arches, the star of this walk is the 17m natural bridge carved out by the Mangapohue Stream. While in the area, make sure to visit the Marokopa Falls to wonder at the water cascading its way down the 35m high cliffs – said to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country.
And if serenity is what you seek, the Taitua Arboretum has that in spades, with shady bamboo groves and towering gum trees your only company much of the time. The 49-acre collection of trees just outside of Hamilton is the perfect place to spend a couple of hours letting nature wash over you to cure your ills.
Wellness and yoga
Want some peace of mind? Visit Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and take part in a rongoā rākau – an introduction to Māori herbal medicine workshop or refresh your energy and renew your perspective on life as you appreciate your surroundings and yourself in a guided meditation workshop on the maunga.
Transform your mental, physical and spiritual health with breathing workshops in the Waikato. Local wellness therapists such as Sandro Mota offer one-on-one controlled breathing sessions to reduce stress and improve energy levels.
Or stretch away your woes in one of the many yoga classes or retreats dotted around Hamilton, Raglan and the wider region. Many offer spiritual yoga classes that train you to get in touch with your body and emotions as you immerse yourself in the present.
There’s an abundance of Waikato restaurants that focus on healthy foods, sourced naturally and lovingly made with health and wellness in mind. Amor Café in Hamilton East is a great place to go for a quick nutrition fix, with a menu based around smoothies and superfood bowls but also featuring delectable bagels and gourmet toast. Also based in the foodie hot spot of Hamilton East is Two Birds Eatery whose ethos is based on flavourful food from scratch, using ingredients from local NZ producers and suppliers, sustainable living and community engagement.
Frank is another must-visit Hamilton eatery, offering honest food, as the name suggests. Upmarket yet comfortable, you’ll find options for all, with a long list of tasty gluten-free and vegan choices.
If fresh but fast is what you seek, then look no further than Fill A Bowl in Hamilton’s CBD and suburb of Te Rapa. Go healthy with a lighter Goal Bowl or opt for an OG Bowl if a fuller meal is required. You could even indulge with an Apple Crumble bowl from the Sweets Bowls menu. PoppyPeach based in Tamahere is another go to serving up fresh, simple, delicious, whole real food.
Closed in winter but open in summer, The Conscious Kitchen at Solscape in Raglan serves up organic plant-based cuisine. All produce used in the kitchen comes from the on-site garden and the truly meditative dining experience is complemented by sweeping coastal views.
When it’s time to take a mental breather and heal, to treat your body and mind with the reverence they deserve, then Waikato is the perfect place to wind down and to refill your cup.