Despite being a struggle in the wee hours of the morning, pulling yourself out of bed and venturing out for a sunrise mission is always worth setting the alarm for. And if you are visiting the Waikato region, there are several great spots to watch the sunrise from.
Here are six spots in the Waikato that are awesome for your next early morning sunrise mission.
Lake Puketirini (main article image above) is a popular lake for locals, with people swimming, kayaking and even learning to dive in this lake. It is the only swimmable lake in the area, making it a great spot, especially in the summer months. It is hard to believe that this now beautiful lake was once an open-cast coal mine, as the remnants of this history are hard to see when you are met with such a beautiful lake alive with birds and plant life on an impossibly sunny morning.
Kauri Loop Walk
Hakarimata Scenic Reserve
Located in the Hakarimata Scenic Reserve in Ngaruawahia, the Kauri Loop Walk offers amazing views of the Waikato region. This sunrise mission will require a bit of effort, as you will have to climb 1500 steps to get to the upper viewpoint. Arrive at the car park early—at least 40 minutes before sunrise—to give yourself time to make it to the top to watch the sun come up. This means you will be hiking those steps in the dark, so bring your headlight and a flask with hot coffee and snacks to enjoy breakfast with a view. After witnessing the sunrise, either return the same way you came or complete the whole Kauri Loop walk, which takes two hours to return. This is a great little workout for a Sunday morning.
Nestled away in the suburb of Dinsdale in Hamilton, Tills Landing is Hamilton's best-kept secret. Park up and head up the hill and you will be met with amazing views of the surrounding countryside as well as the city of Hamilton. A popular spot with locals at sunset, many come here for picnics and to walk their dogs, so sunrise at Tills Landing is a lot quieter, and you will likely have the space to yourself to watch the sun come up over the horizon. After the main event, continue walking along the pathway as this connects to the wonderful Taitua arboretum—a green space just out of Hamilton home to hundreds of trees and birds. Afterwards, grab lunch and a coffee at the Two Birds Eatery in Hamilton East.
Located in the sleepy seaside town of Raglan, Manu Bay is a popular spot for surfers and is only around a short 10-minute drive from Raglan Township. At sunrise, Manu Bay is just gorgeous. On a fine day, the sky often melts to soft pinks and blues offering a dreamy landscape to gaze at and photograph. The sunrise can be enjoyed from the car park from the warmth of the car where you can watch the brave surfers bob around in the ocean below. Or you can walk down the wooden stairs to the rocky beach below. The shore is mostly rocks, so get ready to do some rock hopping along while enjoying the view. After watching the sunrise, head into town and grab a coffee at Raglan Roast on Bow Street, which serves hands down some of the best coffee in town.
Marokopa Falls is a 30-minute drive from Waitomo Township and worth a stop if you are in the area, as this 35m tall waterfall is a very impressive sight. After a short walk through the bush, you come to a viewing platform to observe the beautiful waterfall in all its glory. Coming to the Marokopa Falls at sunrise is the best time to visit for two reasons: you will likely have the waterfall all to yourself, and the golden light creates a magical atmosphere as it slowly lights up the waterfall. While you are in this area, you should also check out the Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk, a 17m tall stone natural archway.
Lake Karapiro is an artificial lake and is part of the Waikato River, created by the hydroelectric dam. It is a short 10-minute drive from Cambridge. This lake is very popular, with several rowing events occurring on the water throughout the year. It is also popular for recreational kayakers, rowers, and, swimmers. One of the best ways to see the sunrise at Lake Karapiro is to camp in the area the night before. There are a variety of options in the area, from free campsites for self-contained vehicles only or camp at the beautiful Mighty River Domain. At sunrise, the lake is painted with beautiful colour and light on a fine day, and on occasion, you may see rowers practising on the water adding to the scene.
Once you've ticked off Hamilton's nature walks, come check out Rotorua's best walks.
Image credit: Athena Rhodes.