Things to do in
Waikato

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Our most recommended things to do in Waikato

Waikato: Hobbiton Movie Set Guided Tour Ticket

1. 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.

Whitianga: Cathedral Cove 2 Hour Boat Cruise

2. 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.

Lake Taupo: Maori Rock Carvings 1.5-Hour Scenic Cruise

3. 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: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

4. 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 Caves Black Abyss Ultimate Caving Experience

5. 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. 

Hukafalls: 30-Minute Jet Boat Experience

6. 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.

From Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Day Trip with Lunch

7. 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, in one easy small-group 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-hour tour. 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.  Afterwards, travel to the mesmerizing Waitomo Glowworm Caves, where you'll enjoy a 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 on the 45-minute tour 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 Cove, 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: 1.5-Hour Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise

8. 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.

Waitomo Caves 1-Kilometer-Long Zipline Tour

9. Waitomo Caves 1-Kilometer-Long Zipline Tour

Meet with your instructors at the park and get equipped with your own zipline gear. Learn everything you need to know for zip lining as you progress your way around the park. Start at a lower elevation among native trees where you will build your confidence. Get to grips with zip lining and learn about local geology and native Maori history along the way. Ride across the longest zip lines which will take you to the popular Waitomo Lookout Point, with breathtaking views over the region. Finish the experience with an adrenaline-filled 280-meter-long super-fast final ride where you can reach speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour.

Whitianga: Cathedral Cove, Small Caves & Snorkel Boat Trip

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

The only boat tour to combine thrills & small caves experiences 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, regularly going to the places seen in online videos & pictures, 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 mesmerising 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.

Other Sightseeing Options in Waikato

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What people are saying about Waikato

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 5,836 reviews

I have two sons (8 and 10) and the three of us all LOVED this. The boys have watched the LOTR and Hobbit movies and loved being in the magic of the set. I was keen to take the boys but actually was far more impressed than I expected to be! Would highly recommend.

it was a most magical enchanting experience. could almost imagine hobbits popping out of the wee houses. we had a perfect day, sunshine ,no wind. the tour guide was very informative

Fantastic ride of your love you won’t regret it has an awesome driver of the boat Phil made it fun and a great memory we won’t forget!!

Well planned and executed trip. A good mix of people on the trip doing various things. Very good for solo travel.

It was excellent. From the shop, cafe to the tour.