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Top Things to do in Hamilton

Hamilton in the Waikato region on the North Island is a beautiful destination to visit and explore. Home to beautiful gardens, educational museums and a thriving food scene, Hamilton is a must-visit for travellers to the North Island. Browse all available tours, attractions, activities and free experiences in and around Hamilton below to begin planning your visit to this beautiful part of the country.

Top 10 Things to do in Hamilton, NZ

Author
Experience Oz Staff
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Waikato’s Hamilton in the North Island is a popular holiday destination for families looking to explore New Zealand away from the large crowds. But don’t let the region’s lack of recognition on the world stage stop you from paying a trip. With a number of great things to see and do in the city as well as a number of more well known attractions on its outskirts and just a short distance from the town, Hamilton should definitely be on your itinerary for your next North Island road trip.

There’s something to keep all ages entertained, from the young and restless to the older and restful, see what our top 10 picks are for things to see and do around Hamilton and its surrounding regions.

1. Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

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Location: 39 Waitomo Village Road, Waitomo Caves

Around an hour south of Hamilton sits the Waitomo Caves, a popular cave network home to thousands of glowworms that light up the caves to create a magical paradise just waiting for you to explore it.

There are numerous ways to explore the caves, you can take a normal guided tour which combines walking and a boat ride, or you can suit up to embark on an adventure journey through the caves with a black water rafting tour.

This adrenaline pumping tour will take you through the canyons of the cave by jumping, abseiling, floating and swimming through.

A definite must-see natural site close to the Hamilton region, the Waitomo glowworm caves are visited by thousands of people every year and once you visit you’ll be able to see why it’s so popular.

2. Hamilton Gardens

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Location: Hungerford Crescent, Hamilton, NZ

A beautiful, free attraction, Hamilton Gardens are a great place to explore, relax and admire the gorgeous sights. Featuring various perfectly manicured collections, Hamilton Gardens is a great stop over for visitors of all ages that won’t bust your travel budget.

You’ll be able to explore the Paradise Collection’s Indian Char Bagh Garden, Japanese Garden of Contemplation, and Italian Renaissance Garden, the Productive Collection’s Te Parapara Garden, Herb Garden and Kitchen Garden, the Fantasy Collection’s Tudor Garden and Tropical Garden, the Cultivar Collection’s Rogers Rose Garden and Victorian Flower Garden, and finally the Landscape Collection’s Valley Work and Echo Bank Bush.

3. Hamilton Zoo

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Location: 183 Brymer Rd, Hamilton, NZ

Home to more than 600 animals from New Zealand and around the world, Hamilton Zoo is a must-visit attraction for animal lovers and families looking to keep the kids entertained for a few hours.

Open 364 days a year – it’s closed on Christmas Day – you can enjoy watching the animals go about their day, learn about the animals, their environment and what it’s like to care for them from a zookeeper with various keeper talks throughout the day, and even come eye-to-eye or face-to-face with some of the zoo’s most interesting animals.

With an abundance of facilities on site including barbecue and picnic areas for those looking to BYO food, a cafe for those who might have left the esky at home, a play ground to distract the kids, and a shop to buy a few souvenirs for visit.

4. Hobbiton

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Location: 501 Buckland Road, Hinuera, Matamata, NZ

Located around a 45 minute drive from Hamilton, Hobbiton is one of the most popular attractions in New Zealand and is often a drawing card for international visitors to the country.

The movie set of the famous Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Hobbiton will make you feel as though you’ve entered middle earth and are expecting Bilbo to greet you into his home – unfortunately this won’t happen.

You will, however, be taken on an informative tour around the private grounds to learn about the set, the making of the film and the region in which it sits.

A great adventure for lovers of the films and those looking to snap that iconic photo with the yellow door and rolling hills.

An exciting adventure for all ages to enjoy, even if you’re not a fan of the film going into it, you’re sure to leave the tour dying to watch all of the movies straight away.

Tours depart from the Matamata I-site which is a 50 minute drive from Hamilton.

5. Waikato Museum

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Location: 1 Grantham Street, Hamilton, NZ

Wiaikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato is a popular attraction in the beautiful Hamilton region.

Displaying a number of different exhibits throughout the year, Waikato Museum is sure to impressive a range of visitors.

With exhibits, attractions and events catering a number of different ages, you can take the whole family for a visit and rest easy know they’re all being entertained.

Some of the exhibits that have and are being showcased include the For Us They Fell: Waikato WW1 Centenary Exhibition, Te Whaanau Maarama: The Heavenly Bodies, and An Empty Fram: Crimes of Art in New Zealand.

Be sure to check the Museum’s website before your visit to learn which exhibits are still on show or are coming soon.

Though it’s free to enter and explore the museum, certain exhibits and activities do require an admission fee.

6. Kawhia Hot Water Beach

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Location: 3331 Te Puia Rd, Kawhia, NZ

A hidden gem in the Hamilton and Waikato region, Kawhia Hot Water Beach is the perfect excuse to practically live on the beach, even in the cooler months.

Come low tide, the beach is often filled with shovel wielding visitors looking to dig themselves a relaxing hot pool.

A great and cheap way to take advantage of the country’s geothermal activity, Kawhia Hot Water Beach should be nearing the top of your to-do list when in the region.

The beach is located in the peaceful, culturally-rich town of Kawhia, and when you’re not bathing in the DIY hot pool, you can be exploring this small beachside town.

An often over-looked part of the country, Kawhai’s untouched beauty makes it an all the more appealing destination to add to your travel itinerary.

6. Waikato Museum

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Location: 128 Seddon Road, Frankton, Hamilton, NZ

If you’re a fan of rugby then catching a game at Waikato Stadium in New Zealand should definitely be a bucket list item.

The home of rugby in the Hamilton region, Waikato Stadium is a major venue used for big scale international games and events.

Home to the Chief’s rugby team and NRL’s Warriors, if you’re visiting during one of the sporting seasons make sure you try and nab yourself tickets to the big game.

The stadium itself is something to admire, built in 2002, it can cater for up to 25,000 visitors across the various different sections.

8. Mt Te Aroha

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Location: Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park, Te Aroha, NZ

For incredible views over the great Waikato region, make your way up one of Mount Te Aroha’s various walking tracks.

The Mountain is covered by the thick forest of Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park and acting as home to a number of interesting birds such as the kaka, kokako and tui. Rising 952 metres high, it is the highest point on the Kaimai-Mamaku range, and the best part about it is there are numerous tracks to follow suiting a range of fitness levels and expertise.

Some of the trails include the Te Aroha Domain Upper & Lower Walks, which are short 20 minute (one way) trails with the lower trail providing wheelchair access.

The Howarth Memorial Wetland Loop Walk is a 1 hour trail following the Waihou River through wetlands, and is accessed via Spur Street at the end of the Lawrence Avenue footbridge.

The Te Aroha Summit Track is one of the most popular tracks, taking around 3 hours to complete one way and traversing 3.9 kilometres of terrain, the track ascends around 1 kilometre to provide you with awesome views from Whakapipi Lookout.

So pack your hiking shoes and get ready for an amazing adventure as you follow one or all of the Mt Te Aroha trails during your visit to Hamilton and the greater Waikato region.

9. Skycity Hamilton

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Location: 346 Victoria St, Hamilton

A hub for all things entertainment and dining, Skycity Hamilton is a popular casino, restaurant precinct and more. If you’re feeling luck, head to the casino fr non-stop fun, excitement and anticipation throughout the night.

Home to some of the most popular casino games in the world, you can find yourself a winning pokie machine or put your chips on red or black.

The casino features more than 330 gaming machines and 23 tables, however you must be aged 20 or over to enter the gaming floor.

If you’re chasing a delicious dinner with friends, family or your significant other, you’ll be well catered for at Skycity. With seven different bars, restaurants and cafes on site you can take your pick for the evening and sit down to enjoy a delicious meal. Some of the eateries include La Parilla, Eat Burger, and Coffee Post.

Skycity also houses a popular bowling ally, open to all ages and levels of experience. In addition to the numerous lanes, Bowl and Social also offers a bite to eat from their menu as well as catering to kids parties.

10. Classics Museum

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Location: 11 Railside Pl, Dinsdale, Hamilton, NZ

Home to around 100 vintage and classic cars, the Classics Museum has grown to become one of the most popular attractions in the region.

In addition to the numerous cars in the museum, there are also a number of events held throughout the year that focus on the cars and life in the olden days.

The museum is also home to a popular diner; Jukebox Diner, a 1950s themed eatery serving up some of the classic dishes from home made waffles to towering burgers and milkshakes.

Run by a small, friendly team, you can visit the museum from 8am until 3pm on weekdays and 9am until 4pm on weekends.