31 best things to do in the central North Island
Dominated by the enormous Lake Taupō and a trio of volcanoes including Mount Ruapehu, the Central Plateau is sporting a plethora of natural ...
Explore pretty rural villages, rolling green hills and tranquil oak-studded countryside, then venture underground to a remarkable cave network. The Waitomo Caves are world-famous and offer a wealth of activities to suit all visitors – from abseiling and black-water rafting to glow-worm spotting.
First impressions of the Waikato region are of a tranquil rural retreat and villages among the hills that invite exploration, whether you’re hunting for antiques or coffee. Hamilton is known for its gardens and riverside dining. It’s an easy drive southwest to Waitomo, where a cave network invites exploration of a different kind, from black water rafting to floating in a cavern studded with glow-worms.
Hamilton Main regional centre on the banks of the Waikato River.
Cambridge Quaint country town known for antiques and racehorses.
Raglan Laid-back surf town known for art and craft galleries.
Te Awamutu Rural centre and birthplace of the musically talented Finn brothers.
Otorohanga Kiwiana town featuring a pretty flower basket-lined main street.
Waitomo Village Small village atop an intricate underground cave network.
Te Kuiti Main service centre in the King Country region.
Tirau Small village boasting numerous cafés and shops.
Matamata The set of Hobbiton in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.
Rent a surfboard and hit the beach at laid-back Raglan. Explore the themed areas at Hamilton Gardens. Browse the boutiques and antique shops in a rural village. Visit the Hobbiton set from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Gaze up at twinkling glow-worms in an underground cavern. Get wet sliding down an underground river. Laugh at the Billy Black Culture Show. Go hiking in Mount Pirongia Forest Park. Meet New Zealand icons at the Kiwi House in Otorohanga.
Waitomo is Māori for ‘the stream that flows into the hole in the ground’. The cave network is the setting for activities ranging from glow-worm spotting to the more extreme adventures of black-water rafting and abseiling.