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The Waikato

The Waikato on Gratia captures a wide range of natural wonders that evoke an ancient New Zealand. There are the ancient volcanic mountains and ranges that push up from the Waikato plain, the black sand surf beaches to the west, bush-clad Mt Te Aroha in the northeast and Waitomo Caves and limestone country to the southwest. There is also Hamilton City, the only major inland city in NZ, with all the attendant benefits of city life.

Everywhere you go is the Waikato River, the longest river in New Zealand. It offers great kayaking, boating and trout fishing spots, particularly on its picturesque hydro lakes. There are numerous walks and cycle tracks along its banks, including the Waikato River Trails. Throughout the region are dramatic waterfalls including Bridal Veil near Raglan, Marokopa Falls on the way to the coast from Waitomo, and Wairere near Matamata.

Then there are the small towns that mainly grew up around farming over a 100 years ago. Many have been extraordinarily inventive in finding ways to stand out and become less reliant on local agriculture. Some of the highlights include the kiwiana capital of Otorohonga, the Talking Poles in Tokoroa and the corrugated iron sculptures of Tirau. The best way to visit is by road and/or cycle trail, including some little used dirt roads to the west that feel surprisingly remote, with stunning scenery.

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