From spectacular underground caves to the wild coast, Waitomo and its surrounding landscape offer an experience that is unlike any other.
An hour south of Hamilton the mystical world of Waitomo awaits. A land of contrasts, much of the area’s natural wonders can be found below the earth’s surface as rolling hills and unspoilt native bush gives way to subterranean limestone caverns.
Millions of years in the making, Waitomo’s (wai meaning water and tomo meaning hole into the ground in Maori) visually awe-inspiring cave network draws people looking for adventure and those looking for a sense of wonder.
Above ground there are good cafes and walks as well as horse treks and agricultural shows plus the beautiful Marokopa Falls and natural limestone Mangapohue bridge.
The self-proclaimed kiwiana capital of NZ, Otorohanga, proudly celebrates all things kiwi, from No 8 wire to pavlova. It’s also home to the Kiwi House, where you are guaranteed a sighting of the nocturnal bird that has come to represent the country.
To the south Te Kuiti, shearing capital of the world, has its own version of the running of the bulls each year – but with sheep, while at the most southern point of the region, the Pureora Forest Park features great walking, biking and hunting experiences.
The Waitomo area also stretches to the wild and windswept west coast with the seaside town of Kawhia, where the region’s first Maori people landed and the great voyaging Tainui canoe found a final resting place.
How far to:
Auckland: 190kms 2 hours 40 mins
Rotorua: 150kms 2 hours 10 mins
Tauranga: 188kms 2 hours 30 mins