Waikato

Waitomo Caves

Above ground the view in the Waikato is dominated by the serenity of the Waikato River and the rich rolling green of productive farmland. The main centre is Hamilton—a city that serves the thriving farming and university community.

Hamilton is famous for its themed gardens, and the local zoo which has the largest free flight aviary in the Southern Hemisphere—an excellent chance to find out about New Zealand's distinctive native birds.

In the Waitomo area, south of Hamilton, there's a natural labyrinth to discover. Massive subterranean caverns are adorned with stalactites and stalagmites—formations that have been millions of years in the making. Visitors can glide through the darkness on a water-borne barge and admire the beauty and deep silence of the cave where the glow-worms overhead give the effect of an eerie underground sky.

The quirky West Coast beach town of Raglan is known throughout the international surfing community for its amazing left-hand break. As a result, the local township is laid back, crafty and well furnished with good eating places. Even if you don't surf, you'll want to sample the idyllic Raglan lifestyle.