Waikato (/ˈwaɪkɑːtɔː/ or /ˈwaɪkætoʊ/) is a local government region of the upper North Island of New Zealand. It covers the Waikato, Hauraki, Coromandel Peninsula, the northern King Country, much of the Taupo District, and parts of Rotorua District.
It is governed by the Waikato Regional Council. It is usually referred to by using the definite article: the Waikato.
The region stretches from Coromandel Peninsula in the north, to the north-eastern slopes of Mount Ruapehu in the south, and spans the North Island from the west coast, through the Waikato and Hauraki to Coromandel Peninsula on the east coast. Broadly, the extent of the region is the Waikato River catchment.
Other major catchments are those of the Waihou, Piako, Awakino and Mokau rivers. The region is bounded by Auckland on the north, Bay of Plenty on the east, Hawke's Bay on the south-east, and Manawatu-Wanganui and Taranaki on the south. Waikato Region is the fourth largest region in the country in area and population.
It has an area of 25,000 km² and a population of 449,200 (June 2016).
The region encompasses all or part of eleven territorial authorities, the most of any region of New Zealand.
It is centred on the Waikato which consists of Waikato District, Matamata-Piako District, Waipa District, South Waikato District and Hamilton City.
In descending order of land area the eleven territorial authorities are Taupo District (part), Waikato District, Waitomo District (part), Thames-Coromandel District, Otorohanga District, South Waikato District, Matamata-Piako District, Waipa District, Hauraki District, Rotorua District (part), and Hamilton City.
The name for the region is taken from the Waikato River; waikato is a Māori word traditionally translated as "flowing water" (specifically, wai = "water" and kato = "the pull of the river current in the sea").