Get Inspired / New Zealand Waikato Is Waiting, So Jump On In Hamilton & Waikato Tourism Hamilton & Waikato Tourism Share on email Print this article Share on Facebook Get Inspired / New Zealand Waikato Is Waiting, So Jump On In story by: House of Travel In a country filled with so many iconic, exciting and beautiful coastal destinations, it can be hard for a land-locked city to match up, an issue that faces the North Island city of Hamilton. Just an hour-and-a-half drive south of Auckland, it's a vibrant city in itself, with plenty of activities to satisfy all kinds of holidaymaker and an endless list of outstanding restaurants and cafes. It's also the heart of the wonderful Waikato region, that has such a wealth of exciting attractions that it's hard to know where to begin. So don't be put off by Hamilton's central location (after all, it's not even far from the coast). Take a trip here, enjoy its sights and use it as a launchpad for an adventure in Waikato. You may just find yourself with a newfound love for land-locked places in island nations. Feel The Buzz In Hamilton The city of Hamilton is small enough to feel friendly and intimate, yet large enough to have the buzz of a modern city. It's New Zealand's fourth largest city and one of its fastest growing, so it must be doing something right. The city centre is filled with galleries, museums and enough quality boutiques, outlets and stores to keep even the most voracious of shoppers happy. The Spanish style Casabella Lane should be your first port of call if you want to shop 'til you drop. Hamilton Gardens is a popular attraction and a lovely way to while away the afternoon hours. With 18 carefully landscaped gardens, including the Te Parapara Garden, New Zealand's only traditional Maori garden, it's a top place to bring the family. There's no shortage of excellent dining options in the city, and a healthy dose of quality craft beer too. Check out the Good George Brewery, where the special brews for the Green Dragon Inn at the Hobbiton movie set (more on that in a minute) are brewed. Lastly, soak up the Hamilton atmosphere with a leisurely cruise along the Waikato River. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the city as you learn about its history and culture. Wonderful Waikato If you can tear yourself away from the addictive atmosphere of Hamilton, you'll find an endless list of iconic Kiwi attractions a short drive away. Explore the 30-million-year-old subterranean caverns of the Waitomo Caves and bask in the aura of the thousands of glowworms dotted along the ceiling. The caves are only an hour west of Hamilton. Meanwhile, an hour east of the city lies one of New Zealand's most popular tourist hotspots. Hundreds and thousands of movie fans flock to the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata every year to hop, skip and jump through the fields of the shire. The set for the Hobbit movies has been kept intact here and with many hobbit holes on display, Tolkien fans will be in heaven. Finish the trip with a mug of ale in the recreated Green Dragon Inn. If adventure sports are more your thing, Waikato's got you covered. Raglan on the west coast is known as one of New Zealand's most iconic surfing spots. Hikers can choose from a long list of great tracks, all with their own unique scenery and wildlife. The Maungatautari Ecological Reserve south of Hamilton is a particularly popular one. Its predator-free environment gives it a rich and diverse bird life. Meanwhile, the hot pools at the base of Te Aroha offer tired walkers a chance to sooth their weary bones and sore feet. The Waikato region is home to the Singapore-sized Lake Taupo. We could write several articles on the many amazing attractions here, but if you're keen on kayaking, swimming, fishing, mountain biking and enjoying some of New Zealand's most unique natural scenery, then you absolutely have to visit. Click here to find cheap New Zealand flights Enquire Now First name* Last name* Email* Phone How can we help? 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