In part three of our series dedicated to exploring our own back yard, we take a closer look at the mystical world of Waitomo.
An hour south of Hamilton, the mystical world of Waitomo awaits.
Millions of years in the making, Waitomo’s (wai meaning water and tomo meaning hole into the ground in Maori) visually awe-inspiring cave network draws people looking for adventure, and those looking for a sense of wonder.
Much of the now internationally acclaimed natural wonders can be found below the earth’s surface; with galaxies of glow worms, subterranean limestone caverns and underground passageways, while above ground, the rolling hills and unspoilt native bush offers a range of exciting walkways and stunning natural landmarks to be discovered.
Marokopa Falls Waitomo: Located along the drive from Waitomo Village towards Maropoka are a variety of short walks including the beautiful Falls Walk.
The easy track passes through native tawa and nikau forest to reach the viewing platform for the falls which divide the Marokopa River into two fisheries, providing popular trout fishing spots along the way.
At 35 metres high, Marokopa Falls is said to be one of the most beautiful in the country, with the river cascading over the undercut greywacke basement rock.
Access: Marokopa Falls is 15km east of Marokopa and 31km west of Waitomo on Te Anga Road. The track is well signposted along the way.
Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk: Just a short drive from Waitomo Village towards Marokopa, you will find the Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk.
Follow the boardwalk as it weaves its way through the impressive limestone gorge and underneath a natural bridge that is a 17m high limestone arch – the remains of an ancient cave system.
Take an easy stroll to the base of the bridge, or continue along the track for a 20-minute loop walk that takes in superb views of the bridge, gorge, stalactite-like formations, farmland and a 25 million year-old fossilised oysters exposed in the limestone outcrops.
This easy walk is perfect for a weekend outing and is excellent when paired with the Marokopa Falls Walk nearby.
Access: The track starts on Te Anga Road, 25 kms from Waitomo Village
Waitomo Village: Explore the village and its many activities and attractions including the iconic Waitomo Glowworm Cave, black water rafting, abseiling, ziplining and walking tours of the underground cave networks.
Visit the Waitomo i-SITE in the village or www.hamiltonwaikato.com for information on these attractions and activity providers and central village walkways
For more information on Waitomo visit www.hamiltonwaikato.com/destinations/waitomo-caves-and-surrounds/ or for more information about the other various tracks and trails available in the Hamilton and Waikato region visit www.hamiltonwaikato.com