Hamilton has the appeal of a country town and the cultural attractions of a city, and is close to many of New Zealand’s popular attractions on the North Island.
The stunning coast of the Coromandel and Mount Maunganui, Rotorua’s hot springs, the caves of Waitomo and Raglan’s perfect surf are all within easy reach of Hamilton. The inland city also has its own charming attractions, including gardens and museums.
Even though it’s the fourth largest city in New Zealand, Hamilton has less than 150,000 residents. It’s a laid-back place with a vibrant café culture, along with a thriving art and music scene. The North Island city also has a proud sporting history centred around the rugby union team The Chiefs.
Hamilton is situated along the the Waikato River, the longest river in the country. You can enjoy its jade green waters by boarding the Waikato River Explorer. This cruise will take you through Hamilton and into the countryside.
Visit the Waikato Museum, with detailed displays of the area’s settler past, both Māori and European. Admire the comprehensive collection of visual art and explore science.
The free Hamilton Gardens showcase a superb collection of New Zealand’s native plants and international garden designs.
Hamilton is close to the deep, majestic Waitomo Caves, which are lit up by thousands of glowworms. Abseil into the caves and tube the rest during an exhilarating “black-water rafting” tour. For a calmer day out, head to leafy Cambridge, with its elegant boutique stores and cafés, or take the kids to the Kiwi House and Native Bird Park in Otorohanga or Hamilton Zoo.
After seeing all the nearby highlights, explore more of the North Island’s stunning natural beauty by visiting beaches, white-capped mountains and forests with hot springs.
Hamilton’s compact size makes it easy to navigate on foot. There’s also a free shuttle bus that runs a circuit of the city every 10 minutes. The climate is mild year-round, though winter nights can get very cold