Just 20 minutes from Waitomo, Te Kuiti hosts the New Zealand Shearing Championships. This annual event is held the weekend after Easter.

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The prime time to visit Te Kuiti is in autumn, when in the best kiwi tradition, Te Kuiti puts on the Te Kuiti Muster and the Running of The Sheep which is normally held the weekend after Easter each year.

As well as all things sheepish (shearing contests, sheep races and more), you can see Maori culture groups performing. At other times of the year, Te Kuiti is a good base for exploring the Waitomo Caves area.

Local beauty spots include the Tatsuno Japanese Garden, Te Kuiti lookout and Mangaokewa Scenic Reserve.

The Maori meeting house Tokanganui-a-Noho is beautifully carved and can be visited by arrangement.

Functional facts: Approx. population 4450, i-SITE Visitor Centre, good range of shops, accommodation and services.