Thrills for everyone, on land, at sea, in the air and even underground

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The black water rafting experience in the Waitomo Cave Maze is a must for many. Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

Born to be wild? If you’re looking for adventure, there’s no better place to start than here in the mighty Waikato region, where our backyard thrills range from black-water rafting and skydiving to jet boat and more.

Image / Tourism in Hamilton and Waikato
Image / Tourism in Hamilton and Waikato

As well as giving you stories to tell, the area is sure to create fond memories and Instagram-worthy pictures.

This week, as part of our Mighty Local story series, the Waikato Herald is heading down the highway to check out some of the area’s places where adrenaline rushes are a given.

Millions of years in the making, the Waitomo Cave Maze has long drawn people in search of excitement. Adventures include ziplining and waterfall jumping, all under a galaxy of glowworms.

The black water rafting experience, which was invented here by some caving locals, is a must for many. Using inflatable tubes rather than the typical rafts, there are now several local tourist companies that offer black water rafting on underground waterways.

Kiwi Balloon Company flights usually depart from Innes Common, next to Lake Hamilton.  Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism
Kiwi Balloon Company flights usually depart from Innes Common, next to Lake Hamilton. Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

Among them is Discover Waitomo, which is setting its sights on thrills throughout November offering black water rafting combined with a range of other adventures in and near the area. One of the combos is a three-hour rafting trip through the Black Labyrinth in Ruakuri Cave, plus an overnight stay in a Waitomo Homestead Hut and a real rock climbing experience with Raglan Rock the next day.

Another company offering black water rafting is Waitomo Adventures, famous for its TumuTumu Toobing tours and the Lost World experience, which begins with a 100-meter abseil into the depths.

There’s also plenty in the Waitomo area for little adventurers, including exploring Aranui Cave or solving puzzles to safely escape the dark depths of Tom the Troll’s lair.

Among the U-Drive experiences at Hampton Downs is driving a go-kart.  Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism
Among the U-Drive experiences at Hampton Downs is driving a go-kart. Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

Surface experiences at Waitomo include hiking and biking trails through native forest and surrounding farmland – and there are waterfalls to admire, too.

For those seeking adventure above the Waikato, Skydive Hamilton begins its outings with an inspiring scenic flight. Views are stunning across the countryside to Waikato, Hamilton City, towns like Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Matamata and Morrinsville, and up the west coast to Raglan.

If the scenery isn’t enough to take your breath away, the tandem skydive to dry land is sure to do.

Another bird’s-eye adventure is with Kiwi Balloon Company. Its hot air balloon rides typically take off from Innes Common, adjacent to Lake Hamilton, at sunrise when the air is calm and calm.

Raglan's left hand break is renowned among surfers around the world.  Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism
Raglan’s left hand break is renowned among surfers around the world. Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

There’s also plenty of ground-level adventure and excitement in the mighty Waikato.

Thrilling speeds are a specialty at Hampton Downs, where options include self-drive and be-driven.

Some of the experiences U-Drive can offer thrill seekers include riding in a go-kart or behind the wheel of a V8 muscle car, or taking an off-road Jeep to thrash through mud and other obstacles on a specially designed track.

With a professional driver at the controls, you’ll have the thrill of speeding around the circuit at speeds of up to 230 km/h in a powerful and powerful Lamborghini Huracan.

Raglan Harbor with its nooks, crannies and pancake rock formations is ideal for kayaking.  Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism
Raglan Harbor with its nooks, crannies and pancake rock formations is ideal for kayaking. Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

Adventurers who love heights – young and old – will find several indoor climbing facilities in Hamilton City, including Extreme Edge, where there are over 100 climbs. Some are suitable for absolute beginners and others for intermediate and advanced climbers, including the awe-inspiring 14.5m overhanging wall that gets your heart pumping.

Younger thrill seekers will also delight in Ninja Valley’s multiple challenges. There are climbing towers, a high ropes course, and an opportunity to master your balance and tactics while trying to knock an opponent off a high beam.

Famous for its left hand break, one of the longest in the world, Raglan is renowned among surfers around the world.

Whether it’s hanging on to 10 without nose dive over the front of your board or just successfully surfing the wave to shore, Raglan Surf School has instructors eager to pass on their knowledge.

Other water adventures in the Waikato include kayaking – again at Raglan on the Harbour, with its nooks, crannies and pancake rock formations, or on Lake Karapiro.

Other thrills await with high-speed slides and whirlpools along the Waikato River in a Camjet jetboat. The company’s extreme journey is a rush from Cambridge to the base of the Karapiro Dam, traversing rapids and negotiating waterfalls – with a few heart-pounding 360-degree spins.

More at: Waikatonz.com.

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