If you really want to get away from it all, take your fishing rod or mountain bike to Mangakino. This friendly little town is handy to three hydro lakes.

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Mangakino, on the shores of Lake Maraetai, is a town that has survived against the odds. It was originally founded to house workers involved with the construction of power stations on the Waikato River. When the work was over, many of the houses were removed and some of the streets were converted back into farmland.

These days the population has stabilised and the area has become an affordable place to own a holiday home. Nearby are the Whakamaru, Waipapa, Atiamuri and Ohakuri hydro lakes and dams, which are all popular for swimming, boating, fishing and hiking.

Mangakino is situated in the middle of the Waikato River Trails. Bikes are available for hire and a trail shuttle service is available for walkers and bikers on the 105 year old Otunui Paddleboat, which runs scenic tours on the lake, and up the Waiakto River and Mangakino Stream.

Over the summer, Mangakino often hosts powerboat and wakeboarding championships, and the Double Dammed Challenge mountain biking event in May is well worth doing.

Mangakino's amenities include a lakeside cafe, post shop, supermarket, hardware store and medical centre.

Functional facts: Approx. population 1000, lodge, hotel and backpacker accommodation, basic shopping, fuel, free lakeside camping.