Waikato is situated in New Zealand’s central North Island, south of New Zealand’s largest city Auckland.
The main city in the Waikato is Hamilton (external link) which is less than 2 hours by car from Auckland.
The region has great beaches on both coastlines, and skifields to the south.
The name for the region is taken from the Waikato River; Waikato is a Māori word traditionally translated as "flowing water": specifically, wai = "water" and kato = "the pull of the river current in the sea".
The Waikato River is the longest river in New Zealand.
Waikato is home to more than 400,000 people. Maori culture and history are an important part of the region’s identity - just over 20% of the people here identify as Maori.
As well as Hamilton city, there are many smaller towns and rural servicing centres (external link) .
The climate is pleasant and temperate, with regional differences that reflect coastal/inland, northern/southern locations.
Agriculture and particularly the dairy industry are main sources of revenue for the region. Fonterra, the global company responsible for about 30% of the world’s dairy exports, is based in the Waikato.
The Waikato region offers a wide range of outdoor recreation and leisure opportunities - from fishing, canoeing, rowing, surfing, kite sailing, cycling, horse racing and walking tracks, to café trips, festivals, and shopping opportunities.
There are great swimming beaches on both coastlines of the region, and ski-fields 3 hours south of Hamilton city.