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πŸš— self-drive itinerary

πŸ›οΈ minimum 2 night stay recommended

🍽️ dining suggestions offered

πŸ“… visit any time of year


The riverside city of Hamilton is home of family fun and a thriving nightlife. The river runs deep and so does the spirit north of the city. Raglan's all about black sand, fine surfing, tranquil harbour and a laidback vibe. Waitomo's spectacular underground caves are a highlight of any New Zealand trip.


Highlights can include:

  • get your camera ready at the spectacular WairΔ“inga/Bridal Veil Falls, an easy walk through attractive native bush flanked by green bush and grey rock - quite the vista πŸ“Έ

  • international award-winning Hamilton Gardens will surprise and delight the senses, especially when you explore  the paradise collection, taking you on an adventure around the world one garden at a time πŸŒΊπŸŒΌπŸŒ·
  • feed the ducks at popular Hamilton Lake Domain where you'll encounter runners and walkers as well as those making the most of grassed parklands, a boardwalk section, playgrounds πŸ¦†πŸ‘Ÿ
  • enjoy organic award-winning New Zealand Tea at Zealong Tea Estate, grown and produced on-site - discover the mysteries of an ancient tea ceremony, or delight in contemporary menus paired with tea πŸŒΏβ˜•

  • take the time to be Spellbound by as many as 30 thousand glowworms on a small group tour that allows you take photos at Waitomo’s biggest and brightest glowworm show πŸ“ΈπŸŒŒ
  • descend into the Black Abyss of Ruakuri Cave, zipline through a gallery of illuminating glowworms and climb underground waterfalls as you test your limits on a truly unforgettable 5-hour journey πŸ”¦πŸ‘·
  • visit Trollshaws Forest and the home of "Sting" on the Hairy Feet Scenic Film Location Tour through the stunning Mangaotaki Valley farm near Piopio featured in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" πŸŽ¬
  • visit Hamilton Zoo home to over 600 native and exotic animals the largest free-flight aviary in New Zealand, and the North Island's largest zoo πŸΎπŸ‘ͺ
  • magnificent black sand beaches Ngaranui Beach in Raglan and Sunset Beach in Port Waikato are ideal for swimming and perfect for learning to surf πŸ„πŸŒŠ
  • abseil 100 metres down beneath the ground into The Lost World - descend slowly then spend 4 dry or7 wet hours in massive caves making your way back to the surface πŸ”¦πŸ§—
  • float down an underground river through mysterious Ruakuri Cave admiring glowworm displays above on the Black Labyrinth 3-hour adventure legendary black water rafting on rubber tubes πŸ”¦πŸ’§
  • take the short walk through tawa and nikau forest to Marokopa Falls to the impressive waterfall often described as the most beautiful in New Zealand πŸ“Έ
  • glide silently by boat and be amazed by the thousands of magical glowworms above at iconic Waitomo Glowworm Caves, a cave tour that has been operating for over 125 years πŸ”¦
  • test your personal limits and feel the thrill of a rock climbing adventure with Raglan Rock in the limestone cliffs of 'Stone Valley' or the 'Sky Castle' πŸ§—
  • meet our treasure of the night, the kiwi, up close and active in a night time setting at Otorohanga Kiwi House + Native Bird Park and view other native birds and reptiles πŸ‘ͺ🐾
  • join Raglan SUP School and take a lesson, a tour, join in the Yoga class on boards on the water or simply hire a stand up paddleboard and see the amazing sights of Raglan from the waters perspective πŸ§˜πŸ„
  • step back in time at the Classics Museum showcasing over 100 classic vintage vehicles in a retro setting with plenty of funk, flair and loads of personality β€οΈ
  • all that is left from an ancient cave system is the Mangapohue Natural Bridge, a high natural arch that you can walk through in an impressive limestone gorge studded with stalactite-like formations πŸ“ΈπŸ‘Ÿ
  • Hakarimata Summit Track rewards any one with the energy to climb steeply up a well constructed set of steps and stairs with great views across the region and out towards the coast πŸ‘ŸπŸ“Έ



πŸ“ # of Visitors 4.5

🐚 Beaches 5.0

🌦️ Chance of Rain 4.0

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘¦β€πŸ‘¦ Family Fun 7.0

πŸ›’ Shopping 7.5

🍽️ Food + Wine 5.0

πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ LGBTQI+ friendly πŸ‘

Note: the highest possible score is an 8.0


πŸŽ₯video courtesy of Waitomo Glowworm Caves on YouTube


Length of stay
  • Sit back and relax. We've planned it all for you. 


    Day 1 : Arrive in Waikato's West

    You'll travel to the Waikato's West, either by car, coach, or by flying into Hamilton's Airport. Upon arrival you'll check in to your accommodation, settle in and get acquainted with your surroundings for the next 2 nights.


    That afternoon you might like to take it easy wandering the extremely beautiful Hamilton Gardens or dazzle all of your senses at Zealong Tea Estate; or you could check out the impressive collection showcased at the Classics Museum and reminisce times gone by.   Sunset in Raglan overlooking the harbour or Ngaranui Beach is another great idea to spend your time, especially for those that love to surf or SUP.


    Day 2 : adventures underground lit up by glowworms

    Today, before you venture underground, why not spend a bit of time taking in some of the beautiful sights above ground.  The short walks through Mangapohue Natural Bridge and to Marokopa Falls are completely free to do, and are both impressive in their own way.  You'll make a great day out when you combine these two special places with an adventure underground.


    As for your Waitomo Caves experience, there's many to choose from.  If you're a fan of photography, you'll want to opt for Spellbound; keen on extreme adventure but want to stay dry - check out The Lost World four hour abseil and cavernous tour; when you don't mind getting the epic seven hour adventure is absolutely incredible; alternatively black water rafting the legendary Black Labyrinth might be the best for you.  No matter what you choose to do, you can be assured that the GlowWorms will be a highlight in your day and a very special thing to witness.


    After your day, we've arranged for you to delight in dinner and celebrate your last night in this region at one of our favourite restaurants in the area.


    Day 3 : Depart Waikato's West

    Before leaving take the time to check out a scene from The Hobbit with Hairy Feet, meet some of our local wildlife at Otorohanga Kiwi House or take in beautiful Sunset Beach at Port Waikato.  We'll let you know the best way to get from this region to the next part of your New Zealand trip, wherever you want that to be.