In the North Waikato bush-clad mountains make way for rugged coastlines and the mighty Waikato River as it makes its way to the sea, while small towns and villages dot the landscape with an eclectic lineup of shops, cafes and churches.
At the Hakarimata Range, in Ngaruawahia, you can stand next to the largest kauri trees in the region or take on the infamous summit stairs on the southern side of the range, while those with subterranean tendencies can journey under the earth in the North Waikato and wonder at the untouched limestone formations and glowworms of Nikau Caves.
Foodies are catered for too with artisan producers such as Mercer Cheese, Te Kauwhata-based Savour the Taste, Candyland and Herb Haven, where you can also take a course in bread making. Not to mention Pokeno Bacon and the ‘world famous in New Zealand’ Pokeno ice-cream shop, where you can grab a 12 scoop ice-cream cone.
Plus don’t be surprised to hear the roar of engines as the area’s three motorsport facilities rev into action. The likes of Hampton Downs Raceway host regular events including track days, which give you the chance to drive on the track, while the Meremere Dragway and Huntly Speedway are also popular with locals and visitors alike.
The more northern towns of the North Waikato have equally as much to offer, from the charming town of Tuakau with its rural surrounds to the west coast beach of Port Waikato, an uncrowded spot popular with surfers and holiday makers.
How far to:
- Auckland: 93 kms - 1 hour
- Hamilton: 30 kms - 25 minutes