Mangakino & Whakamaru - Activities & Things To Do

Lakeside watersports, camping and picnics

Lake Maraetai

Pack a picnic basket and a bottle of wine for some chill time by the lake. Head on down to Lake Maraetai or Lake Whakamaru as both lakes are great picnic spots. Wakeboarding and other water sports are popular here so be prepared to see some action on the lake. 

Lake Whakamaru

The latest Yogi Bear movie was filmed on the Ongaroto Reserve (Whakamaru Reserve). Pack a picnic or take the family camping but be in quick to get the lakeside spots.

Hydro 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.


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. See Fish & Game New Zealand for fishing regulations in the Mangakino (Eastern) region.

Water Sports 

Mangakino has six fresh water lakes in close proximity, making it a great base for wakeboarding, water-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 lakefront clubrooms and water ski access.

Water Ski Club

Provides lakefront clubrooms and water ski access.


The area’s 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. 


Mangakino's Lake Maraetai is renowned as one of New Zealand’s best lakes for rowing and has been an international rowing training venue.

Hiking & biking

Cycle & Walk the Waikato River Trails

Explore the riverside trails either on foot or by bike along New Zealand's longest river - the mighty Waikato. The Waikato River 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's 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 you may be lucky enough to spot a Fantail or Tui along this part of the trail.

Kayaks and bicycles are available from Awhina Wilderness Experience. Shuttles can be organised from both operators. Or check out other walking guides and biking shuttles.

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.


Pureora Forest Park's 78,000 hectares hides numerous impressive bush walks beneath towering Totara, Rimu and Matai trees. 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 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.

Maraeroa Cycleway 

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 Cycleway 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. Mountain bikes are available for hire at Pa Harakeke.

The cycleway 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.

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, on boardwalks over significant wetlands, and take in expansive lake and river views. Get more info on mountain biking in Pureora Forest Park from DOC. 

The Timber Trail

Experience the feeling of being suspended in time as you begin your ride along the 85km Timber Trail. Boasting some of the highest and longest suspension bridges in New Zealand, the Timber Trail weaves its way through ancient forest, across the ancestral lands of local Maori, and along part of the historic Ongarue Tramway. 

The Timber Trail is nestled in Pureora Forest, between Lake Taupo and Te Kuiti, in the Central North Island. Begin your journey at Pureora Village in the north, ending at Ongarue in the south. Experience the full grandeur of the forest which is open to cyclists and walkers alike. Whether a day out with the family, a group ride (or walk) with like-minded people, or maybe even a team building experience, The Timber Trail offers something for everyone.

Services include bike hire, shuttle, bag transfer, and a range of accommodation options.

Outdoor & nature activities

Bird watching

The Pureora Forest is one of New Zealand’s finest podocarp 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). There’s also plenty of bird watching on the Waikato River Trail in Mangakino and Whakamaru. 

Daphne's Historical Archives 

Learn your local history at Daphne's Historical Archives. Check out the 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, New Zealand and the dam construction, Marotiri, Mokai, Oruanui, Tihoi, Tirohanga, Whakamaru and Taupo.


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. Green fees are $10 for 9 holes or $15 for 18 holes. Subscriptions are $220 for one person or $400 for a couple. 

The Great Outdoors 

pureORAwalks and Awhina Wilderness Experience offer guided walks through the beautiful and historical native forest around Mt Titiraupenga and Pureora. 

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. Read more information about the features of the Pureora Forest Park.

Pa Harakeke 

Pa Harakeke (Harakeke World), on the edge of the Pureora Forest, provides a range of eco-cultural tours of this historical forest park. Take in the magnificent landscape, breathe 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 Mount Pureora beside the Kakaho Stream. Where once magnificent and majestic Totara, Rimu, Tanekaha and 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 Maori 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.

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