Waikato
Dhow Cruises

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Our most recommended Waikato Dhow Cruises

Whitianga: 2-Hour Scenic Glass Bottom Boat Tour

1. Whitianga: 2-Hour Scenic Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Hop onboard this 2-hour guided boat cruise to explore stunning volcanic coastline, the amazing marine life as well as learn more about what you see and the history of the area. Visit Cathedral Cove, sea caves, towering rock formations and more. View an abundance of the marine life through the glass panels throughout your cruise. Meet the crew at the Whitianga Wharf to board the Glass Bottom Boat, then cruise out the harbour and learn about the history of Whitianga and abou Captain Cook's arrival. Once out the harbour hold onto your hats as the boat speeds up on the way to the stunning Shakespeares Cliff and Cooks Beach Blow hole.  Continue on into the marine reserve to get a first look at Cathedral Cove and to explore the surrounding bays. Enjoy some fantastic marine life viewing through the glass panels such as schools of snapper, reef fish, stingrays, crayfish and more. Learn all about what you see both below the surface, but also in terms of geological formations. Continue to view marine life while cruising along the coast line, stopping in bays to explore caves, rock pinnacles, and one of the tour highlights: the amazing Orua Sea Cave. The boat cruises right inside this magnificent sea cave full of fish and amazing acoustics. On the way back, there is a stop for more marine life viewing and the option to jump in the beautiful waters and have a snorkel or swim. Also keep and eye out for any passing marine mammals such as dolphins or orca as they are breathe taking to see in the wild. If you are lucky you may get to see them swimming under the glass panels. Sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning views as the boat cruises back to the Whitianga Wharf.

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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.

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Lake Taupo: 1.5-Hour Maori Rock Carvings 5:00 PM Cruise

3. Lake Taupo: 1.5-Hour Maori Rock Carvings 5:00 PM Cruise

Enjoy a summer evening cruising on Lake Taupo. Chris Jolly has been entertaining guests for 40 years, and his tour to the Maori Rock Carvings is known worldwide. Recently restored, these rock carvings were created in the 1980s and still tower above the water, truly a sight to behold.  With family friendly activities on board and split level comfort, this tour is a must for those visiting the region. Enjoy the full bar as you cruise around the Lake Taupo bays, learning onboard from the live commentary. With views of Tongariro National Park and spectacular scenery, this is one evening to be enjoyed by all.

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Lake Taupo: Maori Rock Carvings 1.5-Hour Scenic Cruise

4. 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.

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Lake Taupo Maori Rock Carving 2.5-Hour Sailing Cruise

5. Lake Taupo Maori Rock Carving 2.5-Hour Sailing Cruise

Discover Taupo's Maori Rock Carvings, possibly the largest of their type in the world and only accessible by boat. Enjoy sailing Lake Taupo at its best (and quietest) with New Zealand's only commercially operated fleet of electric yachts. Set off with a friendly and experienced crew who have been sailing to these carvings since 1983. Make yourself at home on a lovingly restored classic white sailing yacht, which set the scene for a wonderful experience on stunning Taupo Moana (Lake Taupo). Sit back and relax as your fun and experienced guides explain the 800-year-old cultural significance of the 14-metre high Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings.  Soak up the sun or roll up your sleeves; you can take the wheel, help hoist the sails or just sit back and enjoy the view. Equipped for all conditions - if the wind dies down, the eco-friendly electric engine will kick in, moving you noiselessly through the water. When the wind is up, you can enjoy sailing without salty sea-spray and noisy outboard motors. Snuggly warm ponchos are supplied for cooler days.

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Lake Taupo: 1.5-Hour Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise

6. 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.

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From Whitianga: Mercury Bay Schooner Cruise

7. From Whitianga: Mercury Bay Schooner Cruise

Meet at Whitianga wharf bright and early to allow for a full day of activities. Step on to the great Windborne; a 1928 Topsail Schooner, and meet your crew for the day. Once you devise a plan for the day the schooner will set sail. Sit back and relax on the large deck, listening to the tales of Windborne in the early days, and the captain's sea stories. Make sure to keep an eye out for dolphins, whales, and the vast array of birdlife swooping by. Visit some of the most breathtaking places around Mercury Bay including Cathedral Cove, Devil's Point, and Pink Beach. Drop anchor at these locations and go for a snorkel in the crystal clear waters, do some paddleboarding, or swim onto shore for a little look around. Or you can simply relax on deck and enjoy a picnic lunch. Arrive back to Whitianga at approximately 4:00 PM.

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Lake Taupo: Sailing Trip to the Maori Rock Carvings

8. 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.

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Waikato River: 1-Hour Ecological River Cruise

9. Waikato River: 1-Hour Ecological River Cruise

Experience an ecological river cruise on a speedboat that is tailored to the wishes of the customers on board, this includes the speed, and the number of slides and spins if any. The experienced driver will give you a detailed history of the area and Karapiro Dam and power station. Admire the native birds and wildlife which make the area home. Your guide has a diploma in environmental management and an in-depth knowledge of the local flora and fauna. Encounter numerous fish species and birds species such as Fantail, Kingfisher, Tui, Harrier Hawk, NZ Falcon, Heron, Shag, Mallard Duck and more. See large waterfalls from the towering cliffs above. Experience some of the narrowest sections of the Waikato River with the forest canopy above. Visit the base of the Karapiro Hydro Power station with full commentary provided. Then, cruise back to beautiful Cambridge.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Waikato

Want to discover all there is to do in Waikato? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Waikato

Genuine kiwi welcome guidance and hospitality on arrival. Correct local history on both tribal boundaries both Maori and pakeha influences. Great geothermal information in regards to changes within the landscape. Excellent pronunciation of Maori words in regards to forecasting history. Staff well equipped for delivering a top of the range experience. Felt safe on board and understood evacuation and health and safety procedures delivered by skipper over loud speaker. Awsome work team

It was really amazing experience. We enjoyed a lot and cruise crews explained all the beautiful places and there history clearly. They are very helpful all the time. Thank you for giving opportunity to express my feelings.

Wonderful trip, excellent guide, showing the only two of us aboard, everything worth seeing. We really enjoyed the trip and can highly recommend it!

A guy who guide us, he is very nice well I believe everyone was so happy with this trip as he gave us a good hospitality.

The skipper was awesome, fresh blueberry muffin was a treat. Good information during the tour.