Tourism in the South Waikato
The South Waikato District is in the heart of the North Island, just 60 km south of Hamilton, 60 km east of Rotorua and Tauranga and 80 km north of Taupō. It is a tourism jewel offering adrenalin, serenity and everything in between.
Make your first stop in Tīrau which is the northern gateway to the district. Tīrau is home to what must be one of the most unique information centres in the world - a huge corrugated-iron building in the shape of a dog, situated conveniently on State Highway 1. Pop into its "partner" next door - a Wool and Craft shop in the shape of a sheep. And what would a sheep and sheep dog be without a Shepherd! These buildings have become national icons.
Tīrau offers a host of activities, from golfing and white water rafting to "time-out" at a local cafe. It is home to some of the best antique and craft shops in New Zealand. Situated in the town are niche shops that sell a range of goods from genuine european cuckoo clocks to traditional teddy bears!
The town is decorated with corrugated iron signs atop many of the buildings, from flowers to bees - even a huge praying mantis.
The Jim Barnett Reserve, award-winning Te Waihou Walkway and Waikato River Trails offer visitors beautiful walks through dairy farmlands and native bush. The Te Waihou River boasts the Blue Springs, from where 'Pump' water is bottled and sold throughout New Zealand. The water in Te Waihou is crystal clear and clean and on a summer's day, the springs are an impressive "blue" colour - indicative of the clarity and purity of the water.
Many of the buildings in Putāruru are covered with large and detailed murals and the pavements are decorated with mosaics, all of which either tell a story or visually display an aspect of life in the district.
Visit the many lakes for peace and quiet or adventure water sports - Lake Arapuni and Moananui make perfect family outings. Mum can relax, Dad can fish for trout and the kids can swim and play.
The Talking Poles of Tokoroa are worth talking about. Carved by local artists, each one has a special significance and tells a story important to the local people. Twenty poles have been erected in the central business district, with more scheduled to be erected in the near future. Tokoroa is home to a world class mountain bike track, national motor cross events, karting and drag racing.
All in all, a trip through the South Waikato is not a quick affair - to really experience everything the district has to offer, staying a few nights is essential.