Things to do in Waikato

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.

Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

2. 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.

Ruakuri Cave 1.25-Hour Guided Tour

3. Ruakuri Cave 1.25-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.

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. 

From Rotorua: Hobbiton Movie Set Tour with Festive Lunch

5. 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 provide inside stories on the making of the films. During your tour, you'll see such famous movie locations as the Green Dragon Pub, the mill, the double arched bridge, and the famous Party Tree.

Whitianga: Cathedral Cove 2 Hour Boat Cruise

6. 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.

Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Bus Tour with Festive Lunch

7. Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Bus Tour with Festive Lunch

Visit two of New Zealand's most iconic and famous attractions, the Hobbiton Movie Set and the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, on a hassle-free tour by premium bus from Auckland.  Relax in the comfort of a premium bus with free Wi-Fi as you begin your journey. Travel through picturesque scenery as your friendly and experienced guide shares local insights with you. At the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, enjoy a 45-minute guided tour. You’ll walk in and float out, marvelling at the sparkling galaxy of blue lights on the silent boat ride through Glowworm Grotto – a subterranean cavern lit by thousands of tiny glowworms. Your next stop is the iconic Hobbiton Movie Set. Enjoy a sumptuous buffet lunch fit for a Hobbit, served up in the festive party marquee beside the Green Dragon Inn. After lunch, your Hobbiton guide will greet you and take you on a magical journey to Middle Earth. Learn insights behind the making of the movies, pose for photographs outside hobbit holes, and sip a specially brewed beverage at the Green Dragon Inn. You’ll have some free time in the rural town of Matamata before the return trip to Auckland.

Taupō: Lake Taupo Maori Rock Carving 2.5-Hour Sailing Cruise

8. Taupō: 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 electric yacht. Set off with a friendly and experienced skipper. 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 guide explains the 800-year-old cultural significance of the 14-meter high Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings.  Soak up the sun or 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.

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. 

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

10. 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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What people are saying about Waikato

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 6,279 reviews

We went on board with our friends total of 14 adults. Was such an amazing experience. The weather in Taupo the day we took the cruise was beautiful. Thanks to the Chris Jolly and the team

Activité incontournable si vous êtes sur l'île du Nord. Paysages époustouflants et atmosphère fidèle à l'ambiance des films. Nous avons eu Danny comme conducteur qui était au top du top !

Despite the rain we had a wonderful trip. Our guide Stephen was educational, polite, and helpful. One of our best guides ever. Especially the home made brownies

Knowledgeable drivers, wonderful food, excellent activities Great way to get an introduction to New Zealand

I will now have to watch Lord of The Rings and the Hobbit!! Thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience