River Cruises, Boating, Cycling, Kayaks and more around Mangakino and Lake Maraetai
Lake and River Cruises
Take a ride on the fabulous Otunui Paddleboat which offers lake and river cruises for up to 40 people from the Mangakino Lakefront Reserve. Enjoy some breaktaking scenery as the paddleboat travels on Lake Maraetai, the Waikato River Gorge and the Mangakino Stream. Bring your trout rod (and license), organise a group, celebrate a special occasion. Full commentary is offered and a licensed bar. Daytime and evening cruises available.
Paddleboat lake and river cruises
Picnic by the lake
Pack a basket and a bottle of wine for some chill time by the lake. Head on down to Lake Whakamaru or Lake Maraetai as both lakes have excellent picnic spots. Wakeboarding and other water sports are popular here so be prepared to see some action on the lake.
Check out the dams
Park the car and walk over the impressive Whakamaru or Waipapa Dams. Walk up to the abandoned Waipapa Village site above the dam and take in the stunning views across Lake Arapuni or visit the historic dam villages of Whakamaru and Atiamuri.
Mangakino Water Sports
Mangakino has six fresh water lakes in close proximity making it a great base for wakeboarding, skiing, rowing and powerboating. Lake Maraetai is used annually for the Powerboat Championships and has also hosted the National Wake Skate and North Island Wakeboarding Championships. Lake Whakamaru is home to the Water Ski Club which provides a lakefront clubrooms and water ski access.
Mangakino Kayaking and Rowing
The area’s numerous lakes are small, sheltered and perfect for kayakers and rowers. Paddling across a mirror flat lake surrounded by forest and farmland refreshes both body and mind. Kayaks are often available for hire from Mangakino’s lakefront reserve during summer, or from Adventure Experience, and tours are also available. Lake Maraetai is renowned as one of New Zealand’s best lakes for rowing and has been an international rowing training venue.
Lake Maraetai, its neighbouring hydro lakes and the countless trout fishing streams and rivers are very popular with boaties and fishing enthusiasts. The local brown and rainbow trout so rarely see an angler they will probably wave at you! Trout Fishing trips on the Otunui Paddleboat are also popular.
See Fish & Game New Zealand for fishing regulations in the Mangakino (Eastern) region.
Cycle & Walk the Waikato River Trails
Walkers and mountain bikers can explore a series of free riverside trails along New Zealand's longest river - the mighty Waikato. The trails cover about 100km of previously inaccessible Southern Waikato land. They wind their way along a path that encompasses the magic and beauty of New Zealand native bush, exotic forest, historic landmarks, interesting rock formations and geological delights.
The Mangakino/Whakamaru cycleway and walking trails from Waipapa Dam to Atiamuri are open. Cycle through native forest, pass towering ignimbrite bluffs, see beautiful lake reflections, and listen to the bird song. The lower tree canopy means that the bird life is much more observable than on some cycle trails and fantail and tui are often seen along this part of trail.
The latest Yogi Bear movie was filmed right here in the Ongaroto Reserve (Whakamaru Reserve). This trail is graded 2 to 3 and is mostly flat with some short steep sections.
You can do a return walk or cycle or you can choose to kayak or ride the paddleboat back to your car. Kayaks and bicycles are available from Adventure Experience and Awhina Wilderness Experience. Shuttles can be organised from those two operators or Otunui Paddleboat to return you to your car at the beginning of the section.
The best time to ride the trail is September to May. The Waikato has a temperate climate so all but the mid-winter months are ideal for riding. The trails are largely protected from the wind.
Mangakino Mountain Biking
The Waikato River Trails and the mountain bike tracks in the Pureora Forest Park offer great rides no matter what your skill level. Be inspired as you walk or cycle through grassed farmland, open reserves, boardwalks over significant wetlands, and expansive lake and river views. More info on mountain biking in Pureora Forest Park from DOC.
Awhina Wilderness Experience
Located on Titiraupenga Mountain, situated 45 minutes northwest of Taupo. Enjoy exclusive access to the home of Ancient trees such as Totara, Rata, Matai and Rimu. Experience natures best, from the ever present birdlife, to drinking from a pure mountain stream while you breathe in the ambience of your surroundings.
Enjoy the hospitality of your local Maori guides, who will share historical, spiritual and cultural information. If you want to stay longer, their Farm Stay Accommodation is perfect for a unique family getaway.
Walk through Pureora Forest Park
Pureora Forest Park straddles the Hauhungaroa and Rangitoto Ranges between Lake Taupo and Te Kuiti. It is a hidden wonderland of tall trees, clear rivers and rare wildlife. Pay a visit to "Pouakani" Totara tree, the largest known Totara in New Zealand which is over 1,500 years old and over 40 metres tall.
More information about the features of the Pureora Forest Park.
Pa Harakeke (Harakeke World), on the edge of the Pureora Forest, provides a range eco-cultural tours of this historical forest park. Take in the magnificent landscape, breath the crisp fresh air, listen to the rich tunes of the abundant native bird life and enjoy the Pa Harakeke experience.
Pa Harakeke is a newly established plantation of Maori Flax and Native Plants nestled in the shadow of Pureora mountain beside the Kakaho stream. Where once magnificent and majestic Totara, Rimu, Tanekaha, Matai trees stood, Pa Harakeke will become a nursery for trees of the next generation as well as a place to gather harakeke and to work with it as their ancestors did.
You will be uplifted from planting your own native tree in Aotearoa, reciting the prayer that will see the plant grow to maturity, receiving a gift commemorating the event and being able to view it via the internet when you return home. You will also be enlightened by the Harakeke experts who will educate you about Harakeke and how it became a valuable resource to Maori in pre-European times. The harakeke exhibits are for the enjoyment of visitors to feel, touch and even wear during demonstrations.
This cycle trail experience is a world first and a must do mountain bike ride which commences at Pa Harakeke at Pureora. It begins at the carved Pou (markers), travels past the Maori Pa, through Native Bush to Pureora Village, over the Pureora Mountain Trail, descending along the Kokakotaea River, traveling through the old tramway cuttings and over the Timber trails before emerging again at Pa Harakeke.
A combined effort by Maraeroa C Incorporation and the Department of Conservation, the Maraeroa Cycleway is one of a network of NZ Cycle Trails being established throughout the country. It is available for the public to ride seven days a week and it is free. Also Mountain Bikes are available for hire at Pa Harakeke.
The cycle ride is accessible by most people who have basic ability on a bike. The trail is graded two to three in terms of difficulty out of a possible six. It is not a technically difficult ride but will be enjoyed by even experienced riders. Allow 3 hours to complete the ride comfortably.
The Pureora Forest is one of New Zealand’s finest pod carp rainforests. Climbing the forest tower takes you up into the forest canopy which will get you even closer to the bird life - including the exotic Kokako (blue wattle crow) and the shy Kaka (bush parrot).
Pureora Forest Park's 78,000 hectares hides numerous impressive bush walks beneath towering Totara, Rimu and Matai. Somewhere amid the native bush is a plaque marking the centre of the North Island and New Zealand's largest Totara tree. Guided forest tours are available and are an entertaining and informative blend of ecology and Maori culture.
Mangakino Golf Club's nine-hole course sits alongside attractive Lake Maraetai. It’s an easy walking course with lake and forest views. The lake even forms part of a natural water hazard. New members and green fee players are always welcome.
Mangakino Moto X Park If you own a motocross bike and are looking for a place to ‘rip it up’,try the Mangakino Moto-X Park. The park is a big hit with locals and out-of-town riders, particularly for its all-weather appeal.
The track follows the natural terrain of the land instead of being a purely man-made course. It has two tracks –one for junior riders and the other for senior riders. The motocross park is on a portion of the Whakamaru Domain, where free camping and lake access is available.
Daphne's Historical Archives
Interested in local history? Daphne's Historical Archives showcases a historical collection featuring photos, cuttings, newsletters, scrapbooks, newspapers, videos and general memorabilia from the early days of the Mangakino District. The focus is on Mangakino and the dam construction, Marotiri, Mokai, Oruanui, Tihoi, Tirohanga, Whakamaru and Taupo.
You might also like to check out other free activities to do in the Great Lake Taupo region.
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