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Things to do in
Waikato

Our most recommended things to do in Waikato

Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

1. Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

Discover New Zealand's natural wonder of Waitomo Glowworm Caves on a guided boat trip. Glide by boat through this underground complex, watching millions of tiny bioluminescent insects lighting up the rocky limestone. Explore this cave complex, including a chance to visit the Cathedral Cave on foot. 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.

Matamata: Hobbiton Movie Set Guided Tour Ticket

2. Matamata: Hobbiton Movie Set Guided Tour Ticket

Take a guided tour of Hobbiton Movie Set in the heart of the Waikato region. 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.

Waitomo Caves: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

3. Waitomo Caves: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

Float down an underground river, slip into fast waters, jump off a small waterfall and take in the magic of the glowworm grotto of Ruakuri Cave on this Black Labyrinth adventure. Put on your gear and learn from professionally trained guides that will take you ziplining, rafting, and caving.  Check in for your black water adventure in Waitomo. Get all your equipment and instructions from your guide before you begin the subterranean journey. Leap 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. 

Waitomo: Ruakuri Cave 1.5 Hour Guided Tour

4. Waitomo: Ruakuri Cave 1.5 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 locals whose parents and grandparents have guided in the caves. The experience will leave you awe-struck and humbled by the sheer majesty of nature.

From Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Day Trip with Lunch

5. From Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Day Trip with Lunch

Join this tour to visit two of New Zealand's most iconic and famous attractions, the Hobbiton Movie Set and the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, on a day trip from Auckland. After pickup from your central Auckland hotel, travel south over the Bombay Hills for panoramic views of the Waikato Region and the scenic Hauraki Plains. Arrive at The Shire's Rest in Matamata, the home of the Hobbiton Movie Set. Your guide will help you skip the crowds so you can explore the Movie Set on an official 2.5 hour tour including the fully themed Hobbit Hole on Bagshot Row. Be escorted through the 10-acre site and learn fascinating details of how the Hobbiton Movie Set was created. See Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, and The Mill. Savor a complimentary specially-brewed beverage at The Green Dragon Inn.  Afterward, travel to the mesmerizing Waitomo Glowworm Caves, where you'll enjoy a light Kiwi-style lunch at The Homestead in Waitomo. On the way, share stories from Hobbiton and interact with your fellow travelers.  Glide silently by boat in the world-famous caves and be amazed by the thousands of magical glowworms.  Your guide will likely be a descendant of the Maori Chief who originally explored the Caves and can share with you the remarkable history of the area. Walk through the majestic Cathedral Cave, famous for its acoustics. The return trip takes you through some of New Zealand's most beautiful countryside before following the majestic Waikato River northwards part of the way back to Auckland. You will pass Taupiri with its very sacred Maori burial ground. The day concludes with your return to your accommodation.

Lake Taupo: Sailing Trip to the Maori Rock Carvings

6. Lake Taupo: Sailing Trip to the Maori Rock Carvings

Enjoy a true sailing experience onboard a classic sailing boat with a sailing tour of Lake Taupo. Explore the beauty of the largest freshwater lake in Australasia, its breathtaking clear waters and stunning surroundings of mountains, hidden bays, and the lush green of bushes and trees. Learn from your local and experienced guide about the history of the lake, the Maori Rock Carvings, and their cultural significance. Get involved in the sailing side and give the crew a hand or just sit back, relax and enjoy the comfort and space on this classical sailing boat. Listen to some music and the sound of the water when gliding through the lake, only using the power of wind whenever it is possible. Stop for a swim in the fresh waters before snuggling up under some blankets on the way back to shore.

Auckland: Hobbiton Movie Set Day Trip with Festive Lunch

7. Auckland: Hobbiton Movie Set Day Trip with Festive Lunch

Become immersed in the magical world of the Lord of the Rings with a guided visit to Hobbiton. Enjoy a roundtrip transfer from Auckland and discover every corner of this iconic movie set with a guide. Eat lunch like a Hobbit at a mesmerizing themed location. Meet your driver guide in Auckland and set off on a modern air-conditioned bus with onboard WiFi. Discover the rolling hillsides, walkways, and Hobbit holes from the movies, and be expertly guided as you stroll around the set. Stand in the doorway and step inside of a Hobbit hole and see where the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins himself lived. Allow your guide to tell you interesting facts about how the movies were made. Top off your Middle Earth adventure with a beer, ale, cider, or ginger beer at the Green Dragon Inn. Finally, enjoy a full buffet lunch like a Hobbit at the Party Marquee. After your tour and lunch, you will board your coach again and travel back to Auckland.

Lake Taupo: Maori Rock Carvings 10.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise

8. Lake Taupo: Maori Rock Carvings 10.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise

Cruise through the crystal-clear, turquoise waters of Lake Taupo, taking in the vibrancy of Maori culture on a cruise. Explore the stunning surroundings of the lake while surrounded by rugged mountains and lush trees on the banks. Enjoy an optional fishing demonstration. 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 represents a triumph of Maori artistry and the continued preservation of indigenous culture. After visiting the Maori Rock Carvings, watch as the crew gives a trout fishing demonstration by setting some fishing lines and talking about the various fishing options allowed on Lake Taupo (if option selected). At the end of the trip, you’ll head back to the dock to disembark.

From Auckland: Waitomo & Hobbiton Bus Tour with Lunch

9. From Auckland: Waitomo & Hobbiton Bus Tour with Lunch

See the magical Waitomo Caves and the Hobbiton Movie Set on a full-day sightseeing tour from Auckland. Step on board your luxury GreatSights coach and travel south, taking in typical New Zealand scenery as you ride – lush green farmland and rolling hills. Your first stop is at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, a network of underground tunnels and caves made from incredible limestone formations. Set off on a 45-minute guided tour of the caves, ending with a truly special boat trip through the Glowworm Grotto, where glowworms twinkle and shine overhead as you sail through a dark and silent cavern. Then you will board your coach again and make your way to the Hobbiton Movie Set which is one of New Zealand’s must-see destinations. A working farm near the small town of Matamata was transformed into a film set for the world-famous Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, and today you can visit the set and see where the magic was created. See highlights like the original Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, and the Party Tree, and now venture inside a Hobbit hole and see how the Hobbits lived. Your tour guide will share behind-the-scenes stories and fascinating facts about how the film set was brought to life. After exploring these two top New Zealand visitor attractions, your driver guide will take you back to Auckland, returning in the early evening.

From Rotorua: Hobbiton Movie Set Tour with Festive Lunch

10. From Rotorua: Hobbiton Movie Set Tour with Festive Lunch

Venture to the lands of Middle Earth on this half-day Hobbit movie set tour from Rotorua. Visit the working sheep farm that director Peter Jackson transformed into the Shire. See where Bilbo Baggins lived and the quest for the ring began, and enjoy a festive lunch. After departing the Lake Rotorua area your coach will take you across the scenic Mamaku Ranges and through the native Fitzgerald Glade, before arriving in the Waikato Region and the rolling hills of the Shire. While exploring the Hobbit film set, your guide will recount fascinating details on how the set was created as well as hear inside stories on the making of the films. During your tour, you'll see the famous movie locations of the Green Dragon Pub, the Mill, the double arched bridge, and the famous Party Tree.

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What people are saying about Waikato

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 8,084 reviews

Rachel was very informative, helpful and funny. The lunch buffet was excellent and well-organised but we had to follow our guide every step of the tour while we hoped we had personal time to explore. Overall, we totally recommend this company and this tour. If you love the books and the movies you won’t be disappointed

Absolutely fabulous with great and informative commentary from Rachel. Really impressed with how organised it is to allow us enough time to take our photos etc but run it smoothly. Lunch was delicious and very filling. Would highly recommend.

Very good, good guide, helps you discover the country with interesting anecdotes. He adapts according to the group and is generous

Was an amazing experience! An absolute MUST-DO while in Whangamata!

There were a variety of experiences. It was a really fun day.