The Waikato River gave the early Māori inhabitants a source of nourishment and life. Māori regard the Waikato as an ancestor, summed up in the famous saying “Waikato taniwha rau, he piko he taniwha.” Waikato of a hundred taniwha, every bend a taniwha.
Te Araroa (from the north) enters Waikato region along this mighty river. A short excursion into the Hakarimata Range brings walkers to Hamilton. Leaving Hamilton the trail ascends Mt Pirongia, which dominates the skyline throughout the region. Then it enters the rich pastoral land of the King Country. It passes through the spectacular Waitomo Caves. Te Araroa goes deep into the central North Island forests before exiting at the foot of Mt Tongariro.