During its journey to the sea, the Waikato River flows into a series of hydro lakes. Lake Arapuni is used for trout fishing, water-skiing, boating and swimming. The power station on this lake is one of the oldest in the country and is protected under the Historic Places Trust. Further along the Waikato River is Lake Karapiro, a premier venue for rowing, dragon boat racing, hydroplanes and water skiing.
North of Hamilton in Huntly is Weavers Park, the original site of the Weavers Crossing Coal Mine. The 60-metre deep pit is now a pristine lake surrounded by parkland and plantings, with tracks for walking and mountain biking.
South of Hamilton is a series of peat lakes. The area around Lake Ngaroto, the largest of these lakes, is currently being replanted with native vegetation. Informative signs and a boardwalk are also being added to the landscape.
The region’s most spectacular waterfall is south of Te Aroha. You have to hike to see Wairere Falls, a cascade of 153 metres, but the track is fabulously scenic and there are great views of the Waikato plains from the lookout. Another worthwhile waterfall is near Waitomo village. Marokopa Falls (30 metres) can be seen from the road, but you’ll get a better look from one of the viewing platforms.