The rustic Dam Café is the ideal spot to grab a coffee and a scone, or an All-Day Breakfast before starting the Maraetai Trail that begins adjacent to the Whakamaru Dam. As you head through the grounds of the Whakamaru switching station, the trail gently winds high above the river through a pine tree lined pathway next to farmland as sheep and stock graze.
The Maraetai Trail is 12.3km and is graded as 3 (Intermediate).
GRADE 3 (INTERMEDIATE)
Off road trails can be narrow and may include hill climbs and steep drop-offs. The trail surface is mostly firm, but may include muddy or loose sections. There may be obstacles to avoid.
The rustic Dam Café is the ideal spot to grab a coffee and a scone, or an All-Day Breakfast before starting the Maraetai Trail that begins adjacent to the Whakamaru Dam. As you head through the grounds of the Whakamaru switching station, the trail gently winds high above the river through a pine tree lined pathway next to farmland as sheep and stock graze. As the trail gradually descends, and you head deeper into forest and farmland, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the river, rolling hills and landscape along the way. The trail is surrounded with native Totara and Manuka and alive with the sounds of birdsong and nature, as it winds its way toward the magnificent Mangakino Suspension Bridge which is the mid-way point between Whakamaru and Mangakino. The 70-metre-long suspension bridge hangs 12 metres above the river, providing stunning views of the river and forest. Continue following the forest trail as it descends to river level, and stop for a rest to capture the moment in the photographic viewing frame on the water’s edge at Lake Maraetai – one of the deepest of the seven man-made lakes on the Waikato River. The next section follows the lake edge through a pathway and boardwalk sections that are lush with thousands of native trees.
As you near the end of the trail you’ll enter the tranquil town of Mangakino via a pathway through the Mangakino Golf Club, a 9-hole course with picturesque views of Lake Maraetai and the surrounding forests. The trail ends at the Mangakino Lakefront Reserve where you can relax at the quirky Bus Stop Cafe, a unique converted 1972 Bedford bus with stunning views across the lake. Grab a fabulous coffee and enjoy traditional kiwi fare in the laid-back atmosphere while you watch the power boats, wakeboarders and waterskiers racing across the lake. While you’re in Mangakino Village, take a stroll around the township that has no traffic and no traffic lights, and enjoy a bite to eat and a refreshment at the local cafes and restaurants. And if you’re looking for something a little different to do, play a round of Disc Golf at the Mangakino Disc Golf Course – where instead of a ball and clubs, players throw a plastic disc (or “Frisbee”) into a standing metal basket. It’s fun for everyone and you can rent discs from the local Four Square in Mangakino.