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Waikato Nature & adventure

Our most recommended Waikato Nature & adventure

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.

Waitomo Caves: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

2. 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. 

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 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.

Whitianga: Cathedral Cove 2 Hour Boat Cruise

4. 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: 1.5-Hour Maori Rock Carvings 5:00 PM Cruise

5. 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.

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.

Tandem Skydive Experience in Taupo

7. Tandem Skydive Experience in Taupo

Start your day in style with a complimentary pick-up from your accommodation in a stretch Hummer. Head to the drop zone, a 10 minute drive from the town center. On arrival, let the experienced and friendly team look after you. Go through the safety briefing and the available video/photo options. Be kitted up with all the equipment you need for a safe experience. You even get a free buff headband to wear during the jump and have as a keepsake.  Your skydive begins with a scenic plane ride up to 12,000ft, 15,000ft or 18,500ft (depending on the option you choose). You’ll begin to get incredible views of Lake Taupo, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe – also known as Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. Once you’ve reached altitude, the doors will open, you’ll sit on the edge of the plane with your tandem master seated behind you. After exiting the plane you will free fall at speeds of 200 kilometres per-hour for 45, 60 or 75 seconds. At 5,500 feet your tandem master will deploy the parachute and you can catch your breath while taking in the stunning views of the Lake Taupo area. You will then float back to earth with a relaxing parachute ride with your tandem master, arriving safe and soundly back at the drop zone. Once back on the ground it’s time for a high five and a hug. Check out how nervous you look in your exclusive Jump Photo before being dropped back to Taupo. 

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 Black Abyss Ultimate Caving Experience

9. Waitomo Caves Black Abyss Ultimate Caving Experience

Go on the ultimate caving adventure at the Waitomo Caves. Satisfy your inner adrenaline junky on this guided tour into the depths of Ruakuri Cave. Zipline through otherworldly glowworms, and splash through underground waterfalls. Check-in in Waitomo where your guide will ensure you are properly equipped and offer some technical instruction before you descend into the underground network of the Waitomo Caves.  Practice abseiling with your guide to ensure you feel confident before abseiling down 35-meters into the seemingly bottomless black depths of the glowworm-studded Ruakuri Cave. Descend deeper with a flying fox zipline that passes through an area that is abundant with glowworms. Prepare to be awed by stunning stalactites and stalagmites that decorate the cavern walls as you traverse through the dark water.  Enjoy adrenaline-fueled fun as you clamber down, float through the canyon, and scramble up waterfalls before resurfacing into daylight. At the end of your exhilarating journey, enjoy a hot shower, hearty soup, and a bagel.  End at the Long Black Café, 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 at this point. 

Whitianga: Sailing Trip to Cathedral Cove

10. Whitianga: Sailing Trip to Cathedral Cove

Embark on a sailing trip from Flaxmill Bay, a small cove nestled between Cooks Beach and Whitianga to see the iconic sights of Mercury Bay and Cathedral Cove. Lend a hand with the sailing or simply sit back and relax on comfy beanbags and admire the picturesque scenery.  Board our large, modern catamaran, and after a short introductory session to the boat's main facilities and safety systems, set sail out to the calm waters of the bay.  As you sail, spot the area's most notable sights with the help of your guide. Keep your cameras ready as you sail past Cathedral Cove. You will enjoy some snacks and drinks during the journey.  Once the boat sets anchor, if conditions are good, choose to swim or snorkel in the marine reserve with the wonderful sea life, or simply chill out on board and soak up the scenery.  The tour concludes back at the starting point in Flaxmill Bay. 

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What people are saying about Waikato

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 37 reviews

Callie, Katie, and B did a fantastic job helping us around the caves. We really enjoyed it - especially the glow worms! What a great experience :)

The complete package was above average - including the ‘staging area’, the guide and of course the stars of the experience the ‘Glow-worms’

a wonderful experience! booking through this app is easy and convenient. i just need to print my tickets at the counter.

Tully was so awesome and very thoughtful as our group had a toddler. She managed to soothe the toddler with a song.

Our guide was awesome talked about the history of the caves but also made it fun