The Waikato river Is the longest in New Zealand and winds its way North West from the slopes of Mount Ruapehu (the largest volcano on the North Island) through Lake Taupo to the Tasman sea at Port Waikato.
It occurred to me after a few days surfing, fishing and eating plenty at a Bach in Raglan with the doctor gang, that I could follow the river East from Hamilton towards Taupo. I had already cycled from Cambridge to Rotorua to meet Fran and Paul 6 days prior, so was keen to mix up the route past Cambridge and travel along the Southbank instead. When you have an entire country to cycle it’s frustrating to cover old ground. The other good thing about this was that I could avoid the busy state highways and instead stick to rolling country roads.
On the 21st I was dropped off in Hamilton and rode quickly down to Leamington next to Cambridge, this time not crossing the Karapiro Dam. After a brief coffee at “Peloton Cafe” on the banks of Lake Karapiro, I continued along the Lake’s cycle track and then on to Arapuni. The road to Arapuni was all farmland, but with vast volcanic rocks sticking out from the hilltops. There were plenty of quizzical looks from the wandering cattle as usual, but these hills were so relaxing and quiet, that the day’s elevation gain seemed to pass easily. I took a swim in the crystal clear waters and pitched up lakeside, what a view to wake up to! The next day took me past Lake Waipapa, over the Mangawhio bridge with its epic drop to the river bed below, then breakfast at Mangakino Lake. The day finished lakeside in Taupo as the heavens opened, it was going to be a hostel for the night.
I had decided to stay in Taupo for 2-3 days. This consisted of a morning kayak to Acacia Bay, then the famous Huka Falls jet boat. I squealed my way through the half hour of 70mph+ speed, 360 degree spins and enjoyed the waterfall view from the foot of the drop. Apparently the flow rate over the 11m drop could fill an Olympic swimming pool in just 12 seconds and the falls narrows to just 15m from the 100m wide Waikato river…that’s a tight squeeze! The next day I enjoyed a sailing trip to the famous Maori carvings and bombed off for a swim in the vibrant blue clear waters of Lake Taupo. The rest of the day was spent on the lake terrace beach and then a dip in the HOT springs. We’re talking scolding springs. I managed less than a minute just knee deep and came out with glowing red legs from the burn!
So all in all with the limited time I had before heading across to Hawke’s Bay, I feel like the Waikato and it’s lakes have had a good viewing and would recommend this experience to anyone! But don’t forget to bring your jet boat.