The Waikato Region takes the name from the mighty Waikato River that runs through the largest city here Hamilton, the Waikato River has historical and cultural significance to the Maori people of the area as it was used as the main system of transport in the very early days of New Zealand history and Waikato translates to flowing water which refers to the flowing river.
Most of the Waikato Region and the largest city Hamilton is land locked and not located by the coast like Auckland, the nearest beach and coast line is Raglan which happens to be the surfing mecca of the Waikato Region, amateur and professional surfers flock here to catch the sweeping waves that flow in with the west coast swell, beaches like Manu Bay and Whale Bay are popular year round for surfing.
For cycling enthusiasts the Waikato Region has a lot to offer there is The Great New Zealand River Ride which follows the mighty Waikato River From Ngaruawahia just north of Hamilton City though to Lake Karapiro and beyond, the cycle trail is around 70km long and can also be walked for tramping enthusiasts.
There are fantastic walks available all though out the Waikato area the Timber Trail in southern Waikato is a very popular mountain bike and walking track that takes you through some stunning locations, along rivers over mountains and through some fantastic native bush.
Lake Taupo and the tributaries that feed the lake are a world class trout fishery and trout fishing is available year round in most areas of the Waikato Region, Lake Taupo is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with hunting, fishing, boating sight seeing and tramping available and the great mountains of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe are with in a stones throw of Lake Taupo.
Rotorua is a great place to visit while in the Waikato Region, Rotorua is regarded as the mountain bike capital of the waikato and with world class single track riding through stunning native bush riders flock here from all around the world just to ride the trails, Rotorua is also an active area for hot mud pools and geysers the whole area is geothermal with hot springs appearing through the ground, and the Rotorua Lake is a great place for trout fishing.
The Waikato River is home to various activities for travelers, there are sight seeing trips available from Hamilton with an historic river boat that takes you through to Cambridge along the great river, from Huka Falls down to Hamilton there is kayaking available on the river and also at Lake Karapiro there is water skiing, camping sites and motor home parking is available through out the area.
Hamilton Gardens is a must do activity while in the Waikato Region located beside the Waikato River and just outside of Hamilton CBD the gardens are a great place to visit, particularly during the spring and summer months, the gardens all have a different theme and are full of colorful and amazing plants from New Zealand and around the world.
The renowned Coromandel Peninsula is located in the northern Waikato area and includes Hot Water Beach a popular destination for travelers, the hot water seeps through the beach sand by digging a hole in the sand and the hot water that is heated by geothermal activity rises to the top.
Cathedral Cove is located on the Eastern side of Coromandel Peninsula and is a fantastic place to visit, the beaches and coves in this area are great to explore with eroded rock formations to see, and take a swim when the weather is warm in the summer months.
The Karangahake Gorge is located on the very edge of the Waikato Region and an historic location for gold mining that took over this area in the last century, there are fantastic walks located in the gorge like the Crown Tramway Walk through the old mining locations which are still visible today, the Karangahake Gorge is part of the Hauraki Rail Trial that starts at Thames on the Coromandel Coast and ends at Mount Te Aroha.