This part of south Waikato around the Lake Maraetai hydro dam is a fantastic and stunning stretch of the Waikato river system. The Maraetai one dam was built in 1949 to provide power to the national grid, and there are actually two power stations here, one below the main dam face and Maraetai two further down stream from the first one and at the end of a diversion chanel.
The Maraetai one and two dams can be accessed by crossing over a third dam that forms Lake Whakamaru further up stream and driving back down Whakamaru road and onto Waipapa road on the out skirts of the Mangakino township, Mangakino was built to house the dam workers while it was under construction, there is a boat ramp in Mangakino and a second boat ramp is located by the dam both ramps are suitable for launching a small boat and the lake is full of rainbow and brown trout fishing is available all year round.
Over night camping is available in the Mangakino township on the edge of Lake Maraetai at the end of Lake Road. The main camping area is close to a toilet block, and a limited number of power outlets are available here. Self-contained vehicles with their own toilet facilities can camp further around the lake shore. There is no charge for camping here and you can only stay for two nights before you need to move on, there are also rental holiday homes available in Mangakino as well as a hotel.
There is a fantastic loop track that starts off the end of Waipapa road and takes you up above the dam and the Waikato river and winds through native bush and pine forest there is also a golf course in Mangakino, if you have a kayak there are some stunning places to kayak around the lake as there are arms and tributaries all along the lake side.
Lake Maraetai is a popular stop for tourists and for locals, there are camping facilities by the lake a golf course and the lake is also used for water skiing and is stocked with rainbow and brown trout.
Maraetai One Power Station
Construction of Maraetai I began in 1946, with the construction of an access road from Tokoroa, and establishing services and accommodation for the workers of the dam which formed the town of Mangakino
Maraetai Two Power Station
The construction of the Maraetai II powerhouse, the last powerhouse to be built on the Waikato River began in 1959, with a 500-metre long canal taking water down the south side of the gorge to the powerhouse