Heading for Tauranga on State Highway 2 near Bethlehem, motorists cross the broad, slow-moving Wairoa River. To the right, past a gradual bend you can glimpse some jetties and the bright colours of a climbing wall. It’s just a hint of some fine waterborne (and land) adventures hidden away up the valley at Waimarino Adventure Park.
Whether it's a guided glow worm tour by kayak (with a gourmet dinner), or a fun family day out Waimarino has it all...
Waimarino Kayak Adventure Park
The main attraction is the riverside area for families. The multi-award winning park is a kayaking nirvana, with so many land and river based activities you could spend days here. There are pedal boats, a thermal pool, climbing wall and rubber slip ‘n’ slide that keeps littlies engaged for hours.
Thrill-seekers can try New Zealand’s only 25 metre-long kayak slide – it spits the rider out over the water two metres up - bound to get your heart racing! The list of activities just goes on and on: Water Trampoline, Low ropes course, tarzan swing, gladiator pole, diving boards, beach volleyball, warm thermal pool...
The BBQ area is popular so bring a picnic and make a full day of it here. Prices include day long unlimited use of kayaks, and all activities from pedal boat usage to rock climbing. See the website for current prices.
Scenic Kayak Tours for all Abilites
Waimarino runs a number of kayak tours to suit all tastes. There are lake tours, river runs, and even if you have never touched a kayak, you'll be well looked after.
One tour that’s drawn rave reviews from travellers is the evening Glow-Worm Tour at nearby Lake McLaren. Bruce Elder’s blog in the Sydney Morning Herald captures the mood of this guided night paddle particularly well:
"It is hard to capture the magic of an experience when the only sources of light are glow worms and the southern sky on a perfect, cloudless night. This was an unforgettable experience. Just truly unforgettable."
The Glow Worm by Kayak Tour has two price options, the ‘Snack’ option costs $120 per person and the Gourmet Dinner option $190 per person. From the calm Lake McLaren to the glow worm canyon, it really is a must do.
Also popular, the Wairoa River Trip (Wairoa translates as tranquil waters) is a 3-hour easy cruise in sea kayaks, from the lower Kaimai Ranges back down the river to the adventure park. It is a gentle, flat paddle and no experience is necessary.
Waimarino also runs guided sea kayaking trips for medium fitness levels between Waimarino and Mount Maunganui's Pilot Bay – or the reverse trip to run with the tides.
The superb pictures above were taken by award-winning freelance photographer Andy Belcher, a specialist in travel and underwater action, who lives in the Western Bay.
Waimarino is one of the top attractions in the Bay of Plenty. A Kayak park is pretty unique in NZ, so this is a must see - especially for families.
6 Taniwha Place, Bethlehem.
(07) 576 4233