What to Do in Piopio: A Quaint Village in the Waikato
Named after a native extinct songbird, Piopio is a quiet village in the King Country of the Waikato. The village has a lot of charm, from streets named after New Zealand native birds to friendly locals operating attractive cafes, fruit orchards and art galleries. There’s plenty of reasons to stop in the town while passing through on a North Island road trip, but it’s worth making a special side trip down theMangaotaki Road for spectacular limestone cliff, riverside and forest scenery. You’ll also see waterfalls, giant boulders and a Hobbit filming location! Find out more with this list of things to do in Piopio.
1. Visit the Piopio Museum
Part of the fun is getting into the museum! Collect the key at the Piopio Superette then step inside this treasure trove located in the old blacksmith’s shop. The museum holds pioneering relics from all around the area, as well as an early photograph collection an early settler’s hut and much more! Admission is by a small donation.
Location: Ruru Street
2. Taste Delicious Fresh Berries at the Piopio Berry Orchard
Open from late October to early May, the Piopio Berry Orchard is the ideal road trip pitstop with real fruit ice cream, coffee, home-baked goods and picking up fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries for a healthy snack for the road.
Location: 1772 State Highway 3, 3km (1.8 miles) east of Piopio
3. Check Out the Art Gallery at The Old Post Office
Pop into this lovingly resorted post office building in the heart of Piopio to check out local artwork, jewellery and antiques at The Old Post Office Gallery. Stop in to find some unique souvenirs to take home. You might also be interested in stopping by The Crafty Pigeon another local art shop nearby The Old Post Office.
Location: 45 Moa Street
4. Sample the Local Cafes
Like any real Kiwi town, Piopio has its fair share of cafes with great coffee! Try the Fat Pigeon Cafe with a picturesque setting overlooking Kara Park. Alternatively, the Cloverleaf Cafe is in the centre of the village selling ice creams, drinks homemade sandwiches, pastries and more.
Location: Fat Pigeon Cafe – 41 Moa Street, Cloverleaf Cafe – 54 Moa Street
5. Soak in the Scenery at the Mangaotaki Scenic Reserve
Stretch your legs and embrace the interesting boulder, forest and river scenery in the Mangaotaki Scenic Reserve. The reserve holds the Mangaotaki Walk, which is a 30-minute loop walk winding over tree roots, passing giant boulders and sheltered by giant kahikatea trees – New Zealand’s tallest species of tree.
Location: Mangaotaki Road, 8km (5 miles) from Piopio
6. Visit a Hobbit Filming Location at Hairy Feet Waitomo
Get your Lord of the Rings fix at one of the most breathtaking filming locations in the North Island, Hairy Feet Waitomo. This attraction was a filming location for The Hobbit movies, easily defined by the towering limestone cliffs and picturesque forest. Take a tour to see the exact filming locations, get interesting insights into the film-making process, and get photos with Lord of the Rings props and weapons! Find out more in The Hobbit Location Guide.
Location: Mangaotaki Road, 14km (9 miles) from Piopio
7. See Waitanguru Falls
Another attraction on the Mangaotaki Road which is not to be missed is the magnificent Waitanguru Falls. A 15-minute return walk takes you down to a platform overlooking a stunning 15m tiered waterfall. The walk is well-signposted on the side of the road. Check out more waterfalls to add to the must-see list in 12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand.
Location: Mangaotaki Road, 20km (12 miles) from Piopio
8. Hike the Leitch’s Track
For a longer walk in the Piopio area, try the Leitch’s Track to Leitch’s Clearing. This walk starts in farmland before quickly heading into the protected Whareorino Forest. The walk is well-graded and takes approximately three hours to reach Leitch’s Hut. The hut can be stayed in overnight, bookings are not required. The hut connects to three other hiking trails.
Location: Leitch Road off Mangaotaki Road, 23km (14 miles) from Piopio
9. Go on a Llama Trek
Discover the joys of trekking with a gentle llama with Greenmount Llamas. Choose from 2-hour to full-day treks among peaceful surrounds and while enjoying homemade treats and New Zealand wine or beer. Your guides will share more about Piopio and the King Country, as well as what it’s like to live a Kiwi farming lifestyle.
Location: 142 Paekaka Road, 10km (6 miles) south of Piopio
10. See Omaru Falls
Yes, more waterfall wonders await! See the 45m (147ft) Omaru Falls, your prize for walking a 30-minute track over grassy farmland and rimu and fern-filled forest. The 1-hour return walk features a swing bridge and a picturesque picnic spot beside a smaller terraced waterfall.
Location: Omaru Road off State Highway 4, 32km (20 miles) south of Piopio