Responsible Travel

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The mighty Waikato – a place where lush green rolling hills meet a commitment to sustainability and responsible tourism. Here in the heart of the North Island, we invite you to embark on a journey of discovery that leaves a light footprint on this special place.

With so many local businesses focused on minimizing their impact on the environment and embracing the Tiaki Promise to care for people and place, there are countless ways to explore the Waikato with a clear conscience.

Be inspired with a light footprint itinerary, delve into the inspiring sustainability initiatives that thrive in the mighty Waikato, proving that tourism and conservation can go hand in hand and read the stories of those who have made it their mission to protect and cherish this remarkable region.

Explore the Waikato with a light heart, knowing that your adventure contributes to the wellbeing of our people and place.

Tiaki in Waitomo

Tiaki means to care for people and place. New Zealanders inherently have a special connection to the land, and want to help visitors travel safely and conscientiously.
Tiaki in Waitomo

Light Footprint Weekender - 2 day itinerary

Embark on a two-day regenerative and sustainable travel journey through the mighty Waikato. This thoughtfully crafted itinerary seamlessly combines eco-conscious activities and breathtaking sights, all while minimising your environmental footprint.
Light Footprint Weekender

Qualmark Businesses

Qualmark is New Zealand tourism’s official quality assurance organisation which aligns with the GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council). All Qualmark businesses are committed to minimising their environmental impact, managing waste management & pollution and restoring nature.

top pick Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari
from
$11.5
Te Awamutu

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari

Step through the pest-proof gate into another world, where an ancient forest tower majestically above well-maintained walking tracks and the air is filled with birdsong. Explore the Sanctuary at your own pace or with an experienced guide who will help you spot the wildlife, including Kākā, takahē, tuatara, kiwi, tīeke and more. Relax in the clearing or take an optional walk up the 16-metre observation tower, offering a unique perspective from within the forest canopy. Sanctuary Mountain is located in the heart of the Waikato, and as a not-for-profit, every visit helps make our conservation efforts possible. So come and share the mauri and mana of Maungatautari. You will come away enriched and enlightened by this spectacular environment.
top pick Waitomo Adventures Ltd
from
$425
Waitomo Caves

Lost World Half Day Option - 100m Abseil & Cave Exploration

The descent takes around 20 minutes of 4 hours required. Abseil alongside your instructor who provides information, reassurance and a backup safety tether. Imagine freehanging in a massive void bouncing a bit & turning - look into upper levels of the cave. Weird plants & formations cling to the sheer walls and the roar of the Mangapu River echoes up from far below. One guide looks after up to 4 people - who all make their unforgettable descent together down through the surreal mists and eventually landing in the base of this massive cavern. Once down, take in the awesome views before starting on an even more amazing trip back to the surface. Climb over massive slabs of rock and a series of ladders.
top pick Hobbiton Movie Set
from
$120
Matamata

Hobbiton™ Movie Set Tours

Experience Middle-earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Your guided tour starts with a drive through our picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Journey past the colourful Hobbit Hole™ doors that scatter the hillsides, including the iconic Bag End, home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, before arriving at Bagshot Row™ for a glimpse of the interior of a humble Hobbit’s home. Continue along the pathways past The Millhouse, across the double-arch stone bridge and into the world-famous Green Dragon™ Inn, where you will enjoy a complimentary, exclusive beverage Hobbit™ Southfarthing™ range to conclude your Middle-earth adventure.
top pick Hamilton Gardens
Free
Hamilton

Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton Gardens is the Waikato’s most visited attraction with more than one million visitors each year. Visitors are guided on a journey of discovery along paths delivering mysterious surprises: step from a peaceful Sung Dynasty Chinese Scholar’s garden into an Italian Renaissance Garden, before being enthralled by the grandeur of the Indian Char Bagh (‘four quartered’) Garden. Through breath-taking themed garden collections, Hamilton Gardens explores different civilisations, and recreates historically important garden styles from the farthest reaches of the world.
top pick Michael Jeans
from
$55
Cambridge

CAMJET Cambridge Jet Boat Tours

Unique opportunity to visit the Karapiro Dam and see some of the amazing native bush and bird life in the Cambridge River Gorge. Ideal for you and your whole family, anyone who likes adventure, fun, speed or scenery. Speeding up the Mighty Waikato in a 450 hp V8 Jet Boat is going to get the heart pumping, adrenaline flowing and the faces smiling. If you are a thrill seeking adrenaline junkie then this is for you. On the other hand, if you enjoy a game of golf, followed by a browse round a picturesque town and a latte, or a visit to the close by Hobbiton movie set from the Lord of the Rings, then give the team at Camjet Cambridge Jet Boat Tours a call and we can have a quiet cruise up our beautiful river.
top pick Zealong Tea Estate
from
$68
Hamilton

Zealong Tea Estate

Experience our popular Signature High Tea curated with a selection of hand-crafted gourmet sweets and savouries or our selection of mains and desserts. Add to your experience with the perfect pairing of Zealong tea to compliment your selection. Whether you enjoy a refreshing green, a floral oolong, or a bold black, we have the perfect tea for you – all organically grown and proudly made in New Zealand. Our menu changes regularly and the images shown on our website will not always show what is available.
top pick Legendary Black Water Rafting Co
from
$130
Waitomo Caves

Black Labyrinth

What began as a special treat for a brave few has developed into an incredible and unique caving tour that gives visitors the chance to weave, jump, climb, and float through a glowworm-studded subterranean wonderland at Waitomo Caves. Visitors can jump off cascading underground waterfalls as experienced and trained guides take you safely through the stunning underworld of Ruakuri Cave.
top pick Discover Waitomo
from
$28
Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The Waitomo region is home to unforgettable sightseeing attractions. Enjoy the world famous boat ride under thousands of magical glowworms and become a part of over 125 years of cultural and natural history. Our expert guides will draw you into this awesome environment, sharing the Caves' historical and geological significance. World renowned and a magnet for both local and overseas visitors, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves occupy a high placing in the New Zealand vacation wish-list. More than 30 million years ago, the legend of Waitomo began with the creation of limestone at the bottom of the ocean. Now these limestone formations stand as one of New Zealand's most inspiring natural wonders and a must-see destination.
top pick Te Awamutu Museum
Free
Te Awamutu

Te Awamutu Museum

Te Awamutu Museum Education & Research Centre is situated in Waipā district, within Waikato. A touchpoint for visitors to learn local history, social development and bi-cultural collaborations between Māori and settlers from 1823, through amazing objects and engaging stories. Understand the reasons why British soldiers invaded the Waikato 1863, the locations, who was involved, and its impact on the Waipā communities that are still being felt today. Do you know about Te Ara Wai Journeys? Start your journey with us. We also have our collections online.
top pick Raglan Rock
from
$95
Raglan

Raglan Rock Karioi Canyoning

Challenge yourself to scramble, rock climb and abseil the cascading waterfalls all whilst experiencing the magic the canyon has to offer. The ancient lava flow is surrounded by native bush and natural beauty. Following your experienced and passionate guide, you will navigate your way through many obstacles, including waterfalls, pools and boulders, ensuring that your adrenaline levels are high. All of the guides are qualified, friendly, professional and highly experienced, guaranteeing you will always feel safe and comfortable. Throughout the trip, the guide will explain to you facts about the flora, fauna and history of the area. All equipment, photos and instruction is provided with free pick up and drop off available from Raglan.
top pick Thundercross
from
$25
Rangiriri

Thundercross Valley Dirt Bike Park

Thundercross Valley Dirt Bike track was established 20 years ago by owner and champion rider, James Fowlie and his family. Set in 750 acres of stunning, rolling countryside, the Park is a popular destination for visitors from all around the world, including first-timers, advanced riders, adrenaline seekers and families alike. Bring your own bike or hire one of ours. No licence or experience necessary. We provide a totally unique experience. You can have a lesson with New Zealand's most experienced coach & try out the delights of dirt biking in a safe and friendly environment. Full protective gear provided. Come and visit us soon.
top pick Wahinemoe
from
$30
Raglan

Raglan Boat Charters - Sunset Cruise

Raglan Boat Charters is located at the Raglan Wharf on Whaingaroa Harbour, the West Coast of New Zealand's North Island, 40 km's from Hamilton and approx 150kms from Auckland, Tauranga and Rotorua. About our Cruises: Departing Raglan Wharf aboard the Wahinemoe to explore the charm of Whaingaroa Harbour – cruise past large conservation reserves, farmland and fishing villages. You will see marine wildlife and ancient limestone rock formations, and listen to fascinating tales about the history and culture of this very special area. Your friendly skipper and crew will take great care of you and make sure you have a magical experience. The sunset cruise is the best and its extremely rare on the west coast to find such an excellent viewpoint.
top pick Open2View
from
$160
Cambridge

Podium Lodge

Podium Lodge has been designed specifically for athletes to support their training or performance ambitions but we welcome anyone looking to stay in a spacious and modern facility with a sporting vibe. This 86 bed accommodation facility is situated on the northern fringe of Cambridge with access to local world class sporting and recreational facilities. 20 minutes from Hamilton Airport, minutes from Cambridge town and a gateway to numerous regional attractions. Whatever the reason for your visit, Podium Lodge is a complete accommodation experience with a team committed to ensuring your stay is a memorable one. We are not for profit and all proceeds are returned to the community.
top pick Novotel Tainui Hamilton
from
$180
Hamilton

Novotel Tainui Hamilton

Novotel Tainui Hamilton is perfectly located in the heart of Hamilton’s dynamic CBD. Only a short distance to Hamilton’s attractions, entertainment & major convention facilities and with easy access to the airport, the best of the city is at your doorstep. With this iconic hotel in the CBD, Hamilton is able to project itself as a destination for events & exhibitions, providing the service and quality required for its international travellers. The hotel provides 217 well equipped rooms as well as extensive conference facilities for up to 300 delegates. Featuring adequate onsite parking, gym, sauna, restaurant and bar, the hotel also has a strong commitment to the environment and is dedicated to achieve environmental and social activities.
top pick Mauro Risch
from
$229
Cambridge

Hidden Lake Hotel and Apartments

Hidden Lake Hotel is a boutique slice of contemporary New Zealand immersed in treed north island nature typical to the region. It’s difficult to believe you are so close to Hamilton Airport and all that the Waikato has to offer. Contemporary styling is a feature of rooms and apartments with superior appointments and technical luxuries. Everything is well thought out and delivered with on-trend hospitality. Expect a high level of service without fuss. Down to earth as is the New Zealand way. Enjoy the designer interiors and scenic outlooks while being pampered with share plates, local wines and spa treatments.
top pick Scenic Hotel Group
from
$109
Hamilton

Heartland Ambassador Hotel Hamilton

Located in the heart of the city amidst shopping, entertainment and the CBD, Heartland Ambassador Hotel Hamilton is within a short walking distance to Waikato Stadium, Claudelands Event Centre, Seddon Park cricket grounds and only 20 minutes from Hamilton Airport. Relax in one of 51 guestrooms all with complimentary WIFI, cool off in the pool, enjoy a hearty buffet breakfast in the on-site restaurant and wander along the river boardwalks not far from here, Heartland Ambassador Hotel Hamilton is the ultimate location for the corporate traveller to large sporting or tour groups looking for that iconic touch.
top pick Jet Park Hotels
from
$169
Tamahere

Jet Park Hotel Hamilton Airport

Ideally located a short walk to Hamilton Airport Terminal, experience authentic New Zealand hospitality and enjoy 4-star hotel accommodation including pet-friendly rooms. The 61 rooms have been completely refurbished and suites contain a kitchenette and living room. Children under 12 stay free with an adult at no extra charge. Complimentary parking, bistro restaurant and café, gym, outdoor pool, sauna, tennis court and WIFI are some of the many features on offer. Our unique destination in the countryside paired with our immaculate attention to detail, means that your stay will be more than just a bed for the night. Located close to Mystery Creek and Fieldays, we are the ideal place to book when attending an event there.
top pick Waitomo TOP 10 Holiday Park
from
$25
Waitomo Caves

Waitomo TOP 10 Holiday Park

An award winning park, within walking distance to the glow-worm caves and all Waitomo's activities. Accommodation ranges from motels to cabins, motorhome/caravan and tent sites. We have a swimming pool, hot tub, playground, wifi, covered barbecues, trampolines, and lots of space. Communal Sky TV Lounge and adjoining reading/relaxation room. Stay here while visiting the glowworm caves, black-water rafting, abseiling, ziplining, hiking local bush walks or, just come for a relaxing break. With great eateries all within a stroll you'll be sure to find something to suit. The award winning HuHu Cafe next door, The General Store Cafe across the road and Tomo's bar just round the corner.
top pick Hotel & Suites by Wyndham
from
$110
Hamilton

Ramada by Wyndham, Hamilton City Centre

The very first Days Hotel & Suites by Wyndham to open in New Zealand has now taken up residence in the lovely and elegant property on the corner of Victoria and Collingwood Streets. Situated in the pulsating heart of Hamilton’s bustling CBD, the hotel puts guests in the heart of the action. The Days Hotel & Suites by Wyndham Hamilton, is a modern hotel set in a historic 19th-century building, offering 69 guest rooms and suites for every kind of traveller. Each air-conditioned guestroom includes LCD TVs with free to air TV channels, tea and coffee-making facilities. Across in the apartment wing, the apartment-style accommodation, rooms feature either a kitchenette or a fully equipped kitchen. Days Hotel & Suites Hamilton has you covered.
top pick Distinction Hotels
from
$120
Hamilton

Distinction Hamilton Hotel

Distinction Hamilton Hotel is a favourite with business travellers and holiday makers alike. Located only minutes from the Hamilton city centre and offering 147 comfortable, air-conditioned rooms and suites as well as free unlimited WIFI. Refurbished Superior Rooms & Suites offer a modern, chic & contemporary vibe. The hotel also offers a fully equipped gym which guests can enjoy complimentary access to, during their stay. Waterworld - a multi-pool facility and the largest swimming complex in the Waikato region is conveniently located just a few minutes walk from Distinction Hamilton Hotel on Garnett Avenue. The hotel's popular Garnett's Restaurant is open for breakfast & dinner daily.
top pick Rural Tours Ltd
from
$136.5
Cambridge

Rural Tours Ltd - Waikato Farmstays

Experience a farmstay with our rural properties available throughout the Waikato. Immerse yourself in the farming lifestyle, where you can really get back to your grassroots. With a guided farm tour with your host/farmer you will learn about their farming life. Appreciate NZ's stunning rural landscapes, then relax for the evening with a 3 course NZ style meal, with complimentary beverage, prepared by your host. Enjoy conversation over the dinner table and find out all about the local hidden gems. Cooked/continental breakfast before you depart on your travels. We are NZ's largest farmstay provider that is NZ owned & operated for more than 30 years. We organise stays at local farms, where guests are hosted by local farmers in their homes.
top pick Tuakau Hotel
from
$160
Tuakau

Tuakau Hotel

Our vision is rooted in our unique position as the gateway between the vibrant heart of Auckland and the serene beauty of Waikato. Nestled between these two worlds, we offer a haven where history and modern comfort converge. Our commitment to sustainability, local excellence, and active community engagement is the foundation of our identity. We take pride in being a catalyst for local growth, and in embodying the spirit of genuine local hospitality. Whether serving corporate guests seeking the comforts of home or leisure travelers eager to explore, we offer them the opportunity to immerse themselves in our local are before continuing their journey to their next destination.
top pick Craig Brown Photography
from
$135
Hamilton

Argent Motor Lodge

As one of Hamilton's newest motels we are proud to introduce ourselves and our convenient city south location. With modern & stunning architectural design, the latest in guest amenities & our tasteful décor we are excited to have you consider us – be it for one night or more. We provide free on-site car parking, SKY Guest Select with 50 + channels, Air-conditioning/Heat Pumps in all rooms, BioXcell System Beds, Ultra fast WIFI Broadband, sound proof construction & blackout curtains are just a few of the important features we have incorporated with your comfort & convenience in mind. Conveniently located close to Hamilton’s city centre, central business district, café & restaurant precinct Argent Motor Lodge is the perfect choice.
top pick Lakewood
from
$70
Huntly

Lakewood Lodge

We are the Adventure Farm Camp Specialists for over 21 years. We offer adventure farm camps for groups plus families. Try fun Horse Games on our arena, Kayaking on our gentle river, exciting twin 120m Flying Foxes, 11 metre high Climbing Wall, Archery and Low Ropes Challenge, all with trained instructors in a beautiful, peaceful environment. We are situated half way between Auckland and Hamilton with a river boundary and a picturesque lake. We specialise in groups of young people aged 8 - 16.We pick you up from the airport, provide fun, organised activities at Lakewood Lodge day and evening, plus our own tour leader takes you on a choice of excursions eg Rotorua, Hobbiton, SkyTower, Rainbows End. We look after you very well with great meals