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WAIKATO

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN HAMILTON AND WAIKATO.

By Tourism New Zealand. 


Rolling green hills, spectacular limestone caves and black sand surf beaches surround Hamilton’s vibrant city hub. Explore one of our most exciting cities and discover the 10 best things to do in Hamilton and the surrounding Waikato region.


Green Dragon Inn, Hobbiton, Waikato By Hobbiton Movie Set

Image credit: Green Dragon Inn, Hobbiton, Waikato, by Hobbiton Movie Set


1   |   DINE LIKE A HOBBIT.

Embark on the ultimate evening of Middle‑earth™ magic at Hobbiton™ Movie Set in Matamata with an evening dinner tour. Discover Bag End, the Party Tree, and the Green Dragon Inn™ on a guided tour before enjoying a banquet feast in the Green Dragon dining room. Standard guided tours also run throughout the day.



Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waikato By Discover Waitomo
Image credit: Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waikato, by Discover Waitomo

 

2   |   ADMIRE THE TWINKLING GLOWWORMS AT WAITOMO.

Beneath the green farmland of Waitomo lies a subterranean maze of spectacular limestone caverns. Take a guided tour into the heart of the Waitomo Caves and be amazed by the limestone formations and huge cavern before exiting via boat-ride under thousands of twinkling glowworms.



Learn to surf at Raglan, Waikato By Miles Holden

Image credit: Learn to surf at Raglan, Waikato, by Miles Holden

 

3    |   LEARN TO SURF AT RAGLAN.

West of Hamilton lies Raglan, a beautifully scenic stretch of black sand coastline. Featuring in the 1966 surfing movie Endless Summer, Raglan is a surfing mecca and is home to one of the longest and most consistent left-handers in the world. See what all the fuss is about with a surf lesson from the Raglan Surf School.



Surrealist Garden, Hamilton Gardens, Waikato By Camilla Rutherford

Image credit: Surrealist Garden, Hamilton Gardens, Waikato, , by Camilla Rutherford

 

4    |   WANDER THROUGH HAMILTON GARDENS.

Learn about the Story of Gardens at one of the region’s most visited attractions. Instead of focusing on the variety of plants, the Hamilton Gardens showcase different types of garden design through themed collections. Step into another world in their Fantasy collection or explore different civilisations in their Paradise collection.



High tea at Zealong Tea Estate, Waikato By Waikato Tourism

Image credit: High tea at Zealong Tea Estate, Waikato, by Waikato Tourism

 

5  |   EXPERIENCE HIGH TEA AT ZEALONG TEA ESTATE.

Visit New Zealand’s only tea plantation, Zealong Tea Estate, and indulge in a delicious high tea experience. Crafted by passionate tea masters, Zealong tea is one of the purest teas in the world and is grown organically in the rich soil of the Waikato region.



Kaka at Sanctuary Mountain, Waikato By Hamilton & Waikato Tourism

Image credit: Kaka at Sanctuary Mountain, Waikato, by Hamilton & Waikato Tourism

 

6   |   VISIT SANCTUARY MOUNTAIN MAUNGATAUTARI.

A haven for a myriad of New Zealand’s most endangered bird species, Sanctuary Mountain is a mainland ‘island’ created by a pest-proof fence. Get up close to takahē, tuatara, giant weta, and kākā amidst the beauty of Mount Maungatautari, an ancient forested volcano.



Hamilton Zoo, Waikato By Waikato Tourism

Image credit: Hamilton Zoo, Waikato, by Waikato Tourism

 

7   |   SPEND THE DAY AT THE WAIKATO MUSEUM AND HAMILTON ZOO.

Soak up the rich arts and culture of the Waikato region at Waikato Museum. Highlights include a majestic war waka (Māori canoe), galleries featuring local artwork and the Waikato WW1 story, ‘For Us They Fell’. If you’re after a day of outdoors and fun, visit the Hamilton Zoo which is home to over 600 native and exotic animals. With New Zealand’s largest walk-through aviary and free zookeeper talks, there’s plenty to see and do with the family. 


The Timber Trail, Taupō By Sven Martin

Image credit: The Timber Trail, Taupō, by Sven Martin

 

8    |   RIDE ON ONE OF WAIKATO'S CYCLING TRAILS.

The Timber Trail, Waikato River Trails and Hauraki Rail Trail can all be found in the Waikato region. Venture through the centre of the North Island on The Timber Trail, that winds through the Pureora Forest. Try out the Waikato River Trails for an adventurous ride along the mighty Waikato River. Or take a more leisurely ride through New Zealand’s pioneering history on the Hauraki Rail Trail.


Hot air balloons ascend at sunrise, Waikato By Balloons over Waikato

Image credit: Hot air balloons ascend at sunrise, Waikato, by Balloons over Waikato

 

9    |   TAKE IN THE STUNNING VIEWS WITH A HOT AIR BALLOON TOUR.

There’s no better way to start your day than going on a hot air balloon flight just as the sun rises. This one-of-a-kind adventure gives you breath-taking views of the Mighty Waikato River, the vast farmlands, and see Hamilton city as it wakes up to a new day. If you're around the region in March, be sure to check out Balloons Over Waikato(opens in new window), an annual festival showcasing the best of hot air balloons.

 

Lake District Adventures Glowworms, Waikato By Waikato Tourism

Image credit: The Timber Trail, Taupō, by Sven Martin

 

10    |   RIDE ON ONE OF WAIKATO'S CYCLING TRAILS

The Timber Trail, Waikato River Trails and Hauraki Rail Trail can all be found in the Waikato region. Venture through the centre of the North Island on The Timber Trail, that winds through the Pureora Forest. Try out the Waikato River Trails for an adventurous ride along the mighty Waikato River. Or take a more leisurely ride through New Zealand’s pioneering history on the Hauraki Rail Trail.


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