Where to go and things to see
Port Waikato there are plenty of things to do. Iron sands, pounding surf and summer days. Port Waikato is a seaside town from the establishment of a store in 1893 today the summer destination has a cafe, volunteer fire station, surf lifesaving club, yachting and fishing clubs. The holiday camp is a popular spot for Aucklanders looking for a summer beach break. Fishing, surf cast from the beach for kahawai, or run a long line from the dunes at the river mouth for trevally. Flounder and mullet are also plentiful using drag nets. The small settlement has the magical Cobourne Garden Reserve overlooking the river to find peace and quiet.
WHAT TO DO, HIGHLIGHTS
- Iron sand beach is aptly named Sunset Beach due to the painted blaze of evening colour
- The surf is a long, left-hand bar break with lifeguards on duty during the peak summer season
- Whitebaiting in the Waikato River (August – November)
- A deckchair on the Port Waikato wharf – fishing
- Sand dunes are massive, the perfect spot for watching the sunset
Swimming care is advised due to rips and pounding surf. The beach is patrolled by the award-winning Sunset Beach Surf Lifesaving Club each weekend from Labour Weekend through to Easter, and during the week in the school summer holidays.
Cobourne Reserve Port Waikato is extraordinary. The entire 3 acre garden is maintained by passionate locals. Originally gifted to the district by the Cobourne family the gardens are located on banks of the Waikato river, as it exits into the Tasman sea. The beautifully landscaped gardens are full of flowering cuttings, donated plants and mature trees. Picnic tables, sheltered alcoves and a short bush walk make this one of those unforgettable places you find on holiday. There are public toilets nearby. Donations to the gardening club are appreciated.
As a wedding venue bookings must be made with the Waikato District Council
WHERE TO TAKE THE BEST SELFIE
- Sand dunes at sunset
- Cobourne Gardens
- Your fishing haul
NEARBY NIKAU CAVE
Nikau Cave is a natural limestone cave approximately 1 km in length. The subterranean caving adventure has no concrete paths, no handrails and no electric lights. The only concession to visitors are some steps dug into the earth down to the entrance and a wooden ladder at the exit. Visitors need to walk on the stream bed and clamber over rocks. Lighting needs to be carried by cavers. The cave is now on private property and was known to Maori and early settlers in the district. The cave has been mapped by the Auckland Speleological Society. The caves are open to the public, check online for details before departing to avoid disappointment.
WHO TURNED UP AND NAMED THE PLACE?
- The massive Waikato River disappears into a wetland delta, an estuary and today a shallow harbour with a sandbar. The Port is no longer navigable with 19th century waka (canoes) replaced with kayaks and runabout boats. Fish and Game online resource describes boat access to the Waikato River Delta – Fish & Game in detail. Numerous small islands lie in the long, thin delta of the river as it passes through low-lying swampy land between Meremere and the coast, the largest of which is Motutieke Island.
WHAT KEEPS THE PLACE TICKING?
- Summer holiday season and locals commute to nearby Hamilton and elsewhere for employment
- Port Waikato Whitebait Fritter Competition
- Bush Carnival (January 2nd) bucking broncos and barrel racing, sheep rides and steer riding, largely on the packed iron sand beach
- Picnicing in the Cobourne Reserve Garden
- 528 (2018)
- Slightly tacky baches, holiday homes dated from the 1950’s and rusty tractors used to launch boats parked in the front yard hark back to earlier times. There is an air of timelessness about Port Waikato that is endearing
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