South of Aucklands Bombay
Hills is a land of lush green valleys where the air is crisp and
clear - the home of restful dairy cows and galloping thoroughbred
To the west the surf is pounding along Raglans famous
left-hand break and adrenalins pumping in Waitomo as
blackwater rafters paddle through a surreal subterranean world.
In Hamilton the roasted coffee is always steaming and the city
life hums in tune with the retail therapy and café culture.
Through it all New Zealands longest river winds its weary
way to the sea at Port Waikato, backing up patiently behind a
string of hydroelectric power dams along its course. The mighty
Waikato flows mainly through a relatively level flood plain.
Things liven up in the three rapids that lie between Lake Taupo
outlet and Ohakuri hydro lake.
Huka Falls produces breathtaking power and only extreme adventure
gurus have run them. Aratiatia Rapids rise with awesome fury when
the control gates are opened and this creates a great spectacle.
Ngawaapurua Rapids, downstream from the Aratiatia Dam, provide
real whitewater sport. A huge breaking wave dominates the rapids
and a strong back-eddy facilitates reruns. You can play here for
Out Raglan way you have the luxury of riding both ocean surf and
Grade 2 rapids on the Waitetuna River. Put in by the S.H.23 road
bridge at Waitetuna settlement and ride the sharp drops out to
the eastern arm of the Raglan Harbour.
Another little gem is the Mangakino Stream, which flows into Lake
Maraetai south east of Mangakino township. Put in at the
Sandels Road bridge after heavy rain and ride some bouncy
Grade 3 rapids down to the lake.
This region has heaps of lake and river water for kayakers to
play around in. Why not hire canoes or kayaks for a multi-day
float and camp trip down the Waikato River, starting
below the Karapiro Dam - its a scenic delight.