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Waikato River

Waikato River passing through Hamilton

The Waikato River is the longest river in the North Island of New Zealand. It drains Lake Taupo and flows north through the middle of the North Island to the city of Hamilton then flows north and west to empty into the Tasman Sea south of Auckland. The river is 425 km long and has been a critical communications and transport link for the communities along its banks. It also has spiritual meaning for the local Maori tribe, Tainui, who regard it as a source of their mana or pride.

The name Waikato comes from Maori, wai means water and kato mean to flow. So literaly Waikato translates to 'flowing river'.

The water of the river has been harnessed for electricity generation. There are 8 hydroelectric power stations and one thermal power station on the river.

The hydro stations, starting from Lake Taupo, are:

The thermal plant is Huntly Power Station (1,000MW) which is cooled by river water and can burn both gas and coal.

Towns and Cities on the River (in order from south to north)