Six of Waikato’s most stunning sunrise spots

Despite being a struggle in the wee hours of the morning, getting out of bed and venturing out on a sunrise mission is always worth setting the alarm. And if you’re visiting the Waikato region, there are several great places to watch the sunrise.

Here are six places in the Waikato that are great for your next sunrise mission.

Manu Bay


Located in the quiet coastal town of Raglan, Manu Bay is a popular spot for surfers and is approximately 10 minutes’ drive from Raglan Township. At sunrise, Manu Bay is beautiful. On a good day, the sky often melts into soft pinks and blues offering a dreamy landscape to contemplate and photograph. The sunrise can be enjoyed from the parking lot from the warmth of the car, where you can watch the brave surfers move in the ocean. Or you can walk down the wooden stairs to the rocky beach below. The coast is mostly rocky, so be prepared to do some rock hopping while enjoying the view. After watching the sunrise, head into town for a coffee Raglan neck on Bow Street, serving great affordable coffee.

Kauri Loop Walk

Hakarimata Scenic Reserve

The Kauri Loop Walk is located in the Hakarimata Scenic Reserve in Ngaruawahia and offers incredible views of the Waikato region. This sunrise mission will require some effort as you will need to climb 1500 steps to reach the upper lookout. Get to the parking lot early, at least 40 minutes before sunrise, to give yourself time to get to the top to watch the sun rise. This means you’ll be walking these steps in the dark, so bring your headlamp and a flask of hot coffee and snacks to enjoy breakfast with a view. After enjoying the sunrise, return the way you came or complete the entire Kauri Loop walk, which takes two hours to return. This is a great little workout for a Sunday morning.

Lake Argentina


Lake Puketirini is a popular lake for locals, with people swimming, kayaking and even learning to scuba dive in this lake. It’s the only swimmable lake in the area, so it’s a popular spot, especially in the summer months. It’s hard to believe that this now beautiful lake was once an opencast coal mine, as the remnants of that history are hard to see when you’re standing in front of such a beautiful lake full of birds and vegetation.

Tills Landing


Nestled in the Hamilton suburb of Dinsdale, Tills Landing is Hamilton’s best kept secret. Park and climb the hill for incredible views of the surrounding countryside and the city of Hamilton. A popular spot with locals at sunset, many come here for picnics and to walk their dogs, so the sunrise at Tills Landing is much quieter, and you’ll likely have the space to yourself for watch the sun rise over the horizon.

After the main event, continue walking the trail as it connects to the wonderful Taitua Arboretum, a green space just outside of Hamilton, home to hundreds of trees and birds. Afterwards, have lunch and a coffee at Two bird feeder in Hamilton East.

Waterfalls of Morocco


Waterfalls of Morocco it’s a 30 minute drive from Waitomo Township and well worth a stop if you’re in the area as this 35m high waterfall is a very impressive sight. A short walk through the forest, you reach an observation platform to observe the beautiful waterfall in all its splendor. Coming to Marokopa Falls at sunrise is the best time to visit for two reasons: you’ll likely have the waterfall to yourself, and the golden light creates a magical atmosphere as it slowly illuminates the waterfall. While you’re in this area, you should also check out Walk along the natural bridge of Mangapohue, a natural stone arch 17 m high.

Lake Karapiro


Lake Karapiro is a man-made lake and forms part of the Waikato River, created by the hydroelectric dam. It is a 10 minute drive from Cambridge. This lake is very popular, with various paddling events taking place on the water throughout the year. It is also popular for recreational kayakers, paddlers and swimmers. One of the best ways to see the sunrise at Lake Karapiro is to camp in the area the night before. There is a wide variety of options in the area, from free campsites for self-driving vehicles only or camping in the beautiful Mastery of the mighty river.

At sunrise, the lake is painted with beautiful colors and light on a good day, and sometimes, you can see rowers practicing on the water adding to the scene.

Image credit: Arthur Brognoli

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Jamie Lynch

Jamie Lynch