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The Waikato River has been pivotal to Cambridge's people since 1864 when British soldiers decided to build a camp beside it, allowing river boats to bring supplies to their garrison.

Waikato-River-highlevel-bridge cambridge-isiteThe river is 425km long, making it New Zealand's longest, and links Port Waikato on the west coast to Lake Taupo.

Stretches of the river are wide and prone to strong currents, but the waterway provides an amazing array of recreational opportunities, as well as almost an eighth of the country's electricity.

From Cambridge, you can take a jet boat ride to the dam face at Lake Karapiro, admiring riverside scenery, or you can hire kayaks at Karapiro to find your own way along the river. Go fishing (with a licence) and you'll be able to try to outwit about 30 species of native and imported fish, including rainbow and brown trout.

The Waikato River Trails enable cyclists to enjoy about 100kms of track which take in five lakes, four hydro dams and some of rural New Zealand's most captivating scenery.

The river has eight dams in total, and nine hydroelectric power stations, including Karapiro which is the last before the water reaches the sea and which is the closest to Cambridge, less than 10kms away.

The name "Waikato" comes from Maori and translates as "flowing water", a reference to the river that has special spiritual meaning for Maori, especially the Tainui iwi (regional tribe).


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