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. 

Whitianga: Cathedral Cove 2 Hour Boat Cruise

3. 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.

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

4. 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

5. 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

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.

Lake Taupo: Maori Rock Carvings 1.5-Hour Scenic Cruise

7. 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.

Waitomo: Glowworm Cave 3-Hour Guided Eco-Tour

8. Waitomo: Glowworm Cave 3-Hour Guided Eco-Tour

Get off the beaten track on this intimate 3-hour tour through some of New Zealand's natural wonders. Start with a brief walk through native bush and the scenic Mangapu gorge.  Hike through beautiful native New Zealand forest, wade through freshwater streams, climb over boulders, and explore untouched limestone caves and spectacular rock formations. Enjoy the mesmerizing glowworm displays in privately owned caves that remain unspoiled by paths or electric lights.  Finish up your tour with a shower, a hot cup of coffee or tea, and some light refreshments. 

Whitianga: Sailing Trip to Cathedral Cove with Swim

9. Whitianga: Sailing Trip to Cathedral Cove with Swim

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, 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. 

Whangamata: Whenuakura Island Guided Experiece

10. Whangamata: Whenuakura Island Guided Experiece

Embark on a short kayaking tour to Whenuakura Island, an area which is beginning to assume iconic status alongside other regional attractions in the Coromandel. The stunning Whenuakura Island, is one of a group of islands off the coast of Whangamata which have wildlife sanctuary status. As Guardians of the islands, this tour encourages you to treat the islands with respect to preserve their future. Because of the island’s geography, access is limited due to swell and wind conditions, and only kayaks or paddleboards can squeeze through the narrow entrance. The island is a wildlife sanctuary and opens up into a beautiful lagoon which is rather out of this world. Join the experienced team on an adventure that takes you 600m off the coast of Whangamata Beach, to a secluded turquoise lagoon surrounded by native fauna and volcanic cliff rock.

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What people are saying about Waikato

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 37 reviews

My husband and I took our teenage granddaughter with us and we all enjoyed the tour very much. Very well organized and we were even able to join a group that was 1/2 hour earlier than our scheduled tour. Worked out well!!

John was great guide. He has provided us his own personal hotspot Wi-Fi during the trip. He also sent us all pictures he took at the end of trim. I strongly recommended him to everyone if you have a trip to there.

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

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

Very enjoyable experience. Commentary was informative and interesting.