Things to do in
Waikato

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Our most recommended things to do in Waikato

Waitomo Glowworm Caves 45-Minute Guided Tour

1. Waitomo Glowworm Caves 45-Minute Guided Tour

Embark on a unique subterranean adventure on this 45-minute guided tour of the world-famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. The caves were formed over 30 million years ago and comprise 2 levels. The upper level is dry and includes the entrance to the cave and formations known as the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ, and the Banquet Chamber. On the lower level are stream passages and the Cathedral. Begin on foot as your local guide brings the caves to life with stories about their history. Then, board a boat and marvel at the light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto.

Waikato: Hobbiton Movie Set Guided Tour Ticket

2. Waikato: Hobbiton Movie Set Guided Tour Ticket

Take a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set in Waikato. Step into the stunning landscapes of the Shire, as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Take a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the only set that remains intact from the movie trilogies. Wander the rambling paths of The Shire and see the Hobbit Holes in the rolling hillsides. Follow your guide around the set as they show you the most famous locations and explain how the movie magic was made. Walk around the 12-acre set, past Hobbit Hole and the Mill. Then, step into the world-famous Green Dragon Inn. Sample an exclusive, specially brewed beverage to conclude your own Middle-Earth adventure.

Hukafalls: 30-Minute Jet Boat Experience

3. Hukafalls: 30-Minute Jet Boat Experience

Your thrilling adventure will take you along the beautiful Waikato river environment, lined with native bush, sheer rock cliff faces, and natural hot springs. Enjoy the best water-level view of Huka Falls from the unique vantage point on the jet boat. The manoeuvrability of the Hukafalls jet boat is legendary. Be in awe at the speed and precision in which you torpedo gracefully down the river to play in the tail of the mighty whitewater of the Huka Falls. Pass by clouds of steam rising where a hot stream joins the river. See the Huka Prawn Park, the Wairakei Geo-Thermal Power Station, and the Aratiatia Dam. Zoom past sheer rock cliffs with just centimeters to spare, exhilarated and secure in the knowledge that your driver is an expert.

Whitianga: Cathedral Cove 2 Hour Boat Cruise

4. Whitianga: Cathedral Cove 2 Hour Boat Cruise

Based in Whitianga, this scenic boat cruise showcases Mercury Bay’s stunning coastal paradise at its very best. Embark on a 2-hour journey across the rugged volcanic shores of the bay and explore its beautiful beaches including Hahei and Lonely Bay. The highlight of the tour is the world-famous Cathedral Cove at Te Whanganui a Hei Marine Reserve. The site has a rich Maori heritage, attracts around 150,000 visitors per year, and was used as a filming location for the blockbuster movie Narnia. Sit back and relax as you sail around the bay, and marvel at its stunning natural landscapes that stretch across the peninsula. Along the way, listen to your guide share entertaining live commentary about the bay and the wildlife that lives here. Make sure to keep an eye on the water too, as there's always a chance to see dolphins, whales and orcas in their natural habitat.

Waitomo Caves Black Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

5. Waitomo Caves Black Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

Check-in for your black water adventure in Waitomo. Your expert guide will provide equipment and instructions before you begin the subterranean journey. Take leaps of faith over cascading waterfalls and weave and climb through a glowworm-studded wonderland. After an energized trip, float serenely down the underground river. Enjoy the glow worm show on the vaulted limestone galleries up above. Ride a stream that twists and turns through a canyon, and tumble down a hidden waterfall and rock slide before emerging into the sun-dappled Waitomo forest.  The rafting base is located a short distance outside Waitomo Caves village. This is the booking and assembly point for all black water rafting expeditions. It is also the home of the Long Black Cafe, where you'll find delicious food, coffee, and friendly Kiwi service. 

Ruakuri Cave 1.25-Hour Guided Tour

6. Ruakuri Cave 1.25-Hour Guided Tour

Explore Ruakuri Cave, New Zealand’s longest guided underground walking tour. Ruakuri Cave offers a captivating blend of Waitomo's most compelling subterranean experiences. Ruakuri Cave has displays of glowworms and is filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites formed over millions of years. Journey down through the spectacular spiral entrance, and marvel at the softly folding shawl-like limestone formations and crystal tapestries. Hear the distant thunder of the subterranean waterfalls and get up close to the glowworms. Major features include Holdens Cavern, named after James Holden who first opened the cave to the public, The Drum Passage, The Pretties, and The Ghost Passage. Your knowledgeable guide will bring the history, features and legends of the cave to life with their storytelling.  Many of the guides are local people whose parents and grandparents have guided in the caves. The experience will leave you open-mouthed, awe-struck and humbled by the sheer majesty of nature.

Lake Taupo: 1.5-Hour Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise

7. Lake Taupo: 1.5-Hour Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise

Admire beautiful Māori rock carvings set against a stunning mountainous backdrop on a 1.5-hour journey around Lake Taupo's waters aboard a boat that features live audio commentary. Relax and enjoy coffee or tea and a homemade muffin as you admire panoramic views of New Zealand, picturesque mountain tops, and historic rock carvings inspired by centuries of rich Māori tradition and art. Explore the open decks that allow you to feel the cool outdoor breeze or cozily snuggle into one of the indoor booths, and enjoy a trout fishing demonstration by the crew — you may even get a "taste of Taupo" if all goes well.

Lake Taupo: Maori Rock Carvings 1.5-Hour Scenic Cruise

8. Lake Taupo: Maori Rock Carvings 1.5-Hour Scenic Cruise

Cruise through the crystal-clear, turquoise waters of Lake Taupo, taking in the vibrancy of Maori culture all the while. After boarding your cruise, explore the stunning surroundings of the lake, surrounded by rugged mountains and lush trees on the banks. As you glide through the lake on your deluxe Catamaran, you’ll come to a massive carving depicting the traditional facial tattooing of the Maori people. Inspired by centuries of rich Maori tradition, artist Matahi Brightwell carved the elaborate relief into the side of a cliff directly above the lake’s pristine waters in 1980. Depicting one of his grandmother’s ancestors, the carving represent a triumph of Maori artistry, and the continued preservation of indigenous culture. Perfect for the whole family, after taking in the carving, you can feed the ducks, and maybe even catch a fish. After 1.5 hours, you’ll head back to the dock to disembark.

Waitomo Caves Black Abyss Ultimate Caving Experience

9. Waitomo Caves Black Abyss Ultimate Caving Experience

The Black Abyss is the ultimate Waitomo adventure and is the caving tour of choice for natural born adrenaline junkies everywhere. Expert guides will help you descend into the black, seemingly bottomless depths of Ruakuri Cave, zipline through a gallery of illuminating glowworms, and climb underground waterfalls. Check-in for your black water adventure in Waitomo. Your guide will ensure you are properly equipped and offer some technical instruction before you descend into the underground network at Waitomo Caves. After abseiling training and practice with your guide, abseil 35-meters into the seemingly bottomless black depths of the glowworm-studded Ruakuri Cave. Your descent continues deeper with a flying fox zipline through a gallery of illuminating glowworms.  Prepare to be awed by the magnificent caves with stalactites and stalagmites that decorate the cavern walls as you traverse through the black water.  Enjoy adrenaline-fuelled fun as you clamber down, float through the canyon and scramble up waterfalls before resurfacing into daylight. At every stage, you're accompanied and supported by experienced caving guides from The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company who know and love this totally unique and mind-blowing environment. At the end of your exhilarating journey, enjoy a hot shower, hearty soup and bagel.  The rafting base is located a short distance outside Waitomo Caves village. This is the booking and assembly point for all black water rafting expeditions. It is also the home of the Long Black Cafe, where you'll find delicious food, great coffee and friendly Kiwi service. The Long Black Cafe is a great place to sit back, relax and enjoy the high energy atmosphere as excited visitors depart and arrive from their various expeditions. Internet access and merchandise are also available. 

Whitianga: Cathedral Cove, Small Caves & Snorkel Boat Trip

10. Whitianga: Cathedral Cove, Small Caves & Snorkel Boat Trip

Set sail aboard the only boat trip to Cathedral Cove and beyond. Experience the thrill of small cave adventures where others can't take you. Discover magnificent views, see New Zealand's 2nd largest sea cave, and get up close to aquatic life in the marine reserve. Leaving Whitianga Wharf, stop to view Shakespeare's Cliff then, pass the stunning Lonely before exploring inside Cooks Beach Blowhole and gazing out through the top. Be amazed at the panoramic scenery at Cathedral Cove. Head south getting close in along the coastline in and out of bays, caves, and blowholes. Take in the mesmerizing volcanic landscape of towering pinnacles and rock sculptures. Marvel at the size of New Zealand's 2nd largest sea cave "Orua" before visiting offshore islands with more caves. Have the option to snorkel and witness sea life in the marine reserve before heading back to Whitianga.

Frequently asked questions about Waikato

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What people are saying about Waikato

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 5,836 reviews

Amazing cruise! Such funny and friendly staff who made my experience a great one. Highly recommend!!

Such a beautiful experience with an amazing tour guide! Would recommend for any and all LOTR fans.

Beautiful cave formations. Interesting knowledge about glow worms. And the spiral was super cool

Wonderful guides, awesome experience! Will definitely recommend to anyone.

Mike was an amazing travel guide. Hobbiton was beautiful.