The magnificent Marokopa Falls. © Hamilton Waikato

Loved by the locals: Waitomo

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1. Marokopa Falls

About 31km west of Waitomo on Te Anga Road, a 10-minute bushwalk will take you to a viewing platform of the Marokopa Falls – described as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand.

When rain hits the area, the 30m-high falls are powerful to behold as they cascade over the greywacke bluff. The best place to see the falls is from the platform at the end of a short track through nīkau and tawa forest.

2. The Great New Zealand Muster, Te Kūiti

The Great New Zealand Muster, perfect for families, makes the town come alive when it rolls into town each year. The gist is that 2000 sheep stampede the main street of town, and this happens as some of the best in the business are in town for the New Zealand Shearing Champs.

Sheep. #NZ #Sheep #Tekuiti #GreatNewZealandMuster

A post shared by Tom Petch (@petchy9511) on Apr 3, 2016 at 12:06am PDT

The Muster is a good old Kiwi country fair with local food, entertainment, arts and crafts and around 100 stalls.

This event illustrates everything the area is all about: Kiwi hospitality, fun, and of course, a whole lot of sheep. 

3. Ed Hillary Walkway

Ōtorohanga is made hugely more colourful with the presence of 26 exhibits and seven large posters in the town centre. These artworks are a quirky and informative display about all things to do with Kiwi culture.

There are a range of themes in the exhibits: one is devoted to Colin Meads, one to Kiwi slang, buzzy bees, pavlova, the vote for women and sheep.

There are murals, corrugated-iron Kiwi sculptures and a whole arcade of Kiwiana Display Modules in the Ed Hillary Walkway in the centre of town. 

4. Piripiri Cave Walk

This magic walk (29km west of Waitomo on Te Anga Rd) offers visitors the chance to view one of the incredible caves in Waitomo, free of charge.

Only a short walk through native bush and past some limestone outcrops, the path then goes down a small staircase and takes you to the cave entrance. There is a platform at the bottom of the cave that allows you to take in the view and observe the fragile ecosystems inside the cave. Be sure to take a torch!

Pretty massive cave a short walk off the road

A post shared by New Zealand (@shannonchisnall) on Mar 20, 2017 at 1:23am PDT

5. Waitomo Caves Hotel

Also known as the old lady on the hill, the Waitomo Caves Hotel used to be a thriving, grand place that hosted sellout lunches – the Queen even stayed there on her 1957 New Zealand tour!

The hotel became lacklustre for a few decades but is back up and running as a hotel, function centre and restaurant. Even if you aren’t staying, it’s worth winding up the driveway to see the impressive old building and its lovely gardens and grounds. 

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