Best known for nature-based tourism and off-the-beaten track experiences, the city and surrounding area offers something for everyone.
Superb gardens, riverside walks and vibrant nightlife can be found in Hamilton, while the wider region is home to world-renowned attractions including the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Raglan surf beach and Hobbiton Movie Set.
Explore Hamilton and its surrounds
Hamilton’s rich cultural mix and vibrant centre makes it a perfect place to experience the friendly Kiwi lifestyle.
Food and beverage options in the city are endless. Award winning restaurants catering to all tastes and a vibrant café scene, as well as a micro-brewery and several stunning wineries feature throughout the region. Following a delicious meal, go shopping at one of the city’s many boutique stores or modern malls.
A visit to Hamilton wouldn’t be complete without a walk through Hamilton Gardens to see the many fantastic display gardens inspired by cultures from around the world. Located on the banks of the mighty Waikato River, the gardens are an ideal place to enjoy a picnic or leisurely stroll. From the Gardens you can board the Waikato River Explorer, and see the city from the river which divides it.
Stop off at the Classics Museum. Take a walk down memory lane seeing the cars of yesteryear, and an extensive collection of petrol memorabilia. Or visit the Waikato Museum – Te Whare Taonga o Waikato and ArtsPost which provides a rich experience of the arts and culture of the Waikato region.
Wrap up your day at the SKYCITY Hamilton, the casino is open 24 hours for non-stop fun and excitement. All under one roof you will find the world’s most popular casino games, fantastic live entertainment and great food and bar offerings.
Relax in bohemian Raglan
Pack your bags and head out west to Raglan. With its black sand beaches, great surf, tranquil harbour and laidback vibe, Raglan is a slice of Kiwi heaven. On arriving in this idyllic coastal town, hire a kayak or take a cruise on the harbour, or saddle up for a horse trek in the nearby hills. If you’ve always wanted to learn to surf, take lessons at Raglan Surfing School then test yourself at Manu Bay - the longest left hand break in the world.
Step aboard the WahineMoe, a state of the art catamaran for a leisurely cruise and lunch on the picturesque Raglan Harbour. The coastal township is packed full of boutique shops, funky cafes and arts and crafts stores. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy a glass of wine while listening to a live music at a bar on the main street.
For a slice of adrenalin pumping action today visit Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, the popular race track which provides a number of driver training experiences or perhaps join a professional driver for some hot laps.
Finish off the day with a more refined experience, travel to Zealong Tea Estate on the outskirts of Hamilton to enjoy a delicious high tea amongst a plantation of a million tea plants. Or if wine is your thing, try wine tasting at Mystery Creek Wines followed by a delicious meal at the neighbouring Woodbox Winery Restaurant & Bar overlooking the Waikato River.
Underground wonders and movie sets
Travel south to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. This subterranean labyrinth is full of ancient stalagmites, stalactites, and luminescent glowworms. You can discover the caves on a guided walking and boat tour. For something a little more daring, try black water rafting - abseil into the depths of Waitomo’s lost world and explore the underground rivers that flow through the cave system by inflatable rubber inner tube.
Movie buffs might prefer a visit to Hobbiton Movie Set in the Waikato town of Matamata. The beautiful rural landscape around Hobbiton made it an ideal setting for the Hobbit’s Shire during filming of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and New Zealand director Peter Jackson is again using the set for filming of The Hobbit.
An ideal stopping point on the way to or from these activities is Camjet. Sure to get your adrenalin pumping, get taken up the Waikato River in a V8 jet boat squeezing through gorges, negotiating rapids and doing 360o spins.