Hamilton Travel Guide

With big city-standard shopping, gardens and museums, jaw-dropping sights at nearby caves, and Middle Earth tours for Lord of The Rings enthusiasts, Hamilton has a more than enough to satisfy the most hard-to-please traveller.

Hamilton is part of North Island’s Waikato region, is the country’s largest inland city, and has the fourth-largest population of all the cities of New Zealand. Hamilton Central is a thriving commercial zone. There is a large student community - due to the presence of University of Waikato and the Waikato Institute of Technology - and a wide enough selection of pubs to keep them happy, many of them at Central.

This cosmopolitan city also has a riverfront entertainment complex, SkyCity Hamilton, featuring the third casino to be opened in New Zealand. SkyCity includes live entertainment, a 10-lane bowling alley, a restaurant, a convention centre and four bars.

Also on the Waikato’s banks is the city’s museum, in the cultural precinct. It focusses on Waikato’s cultural heritage and the Tanui tribe.

Hamilton Gardens are another major feature of the city. These present a collection of differently themed sections, representing various cultures and periods in history, and the gardens are considered world-class. Te Parapara, a garden dedicated to the traditional Maori way of life, and the Japanese Garden of Contemplation are both standouts among one most popular attractions in the region.

About an hour’s drive east out of Hamilton is Matamata’s Hobbiton Movie Set, with scenes from the Lord of The Rings trilogy. There are 44 Hobbit holes, as well as the Green Dragon Inn and more from the fantasy movie trilogy, and the facility is open seven days a week (tours depart from Matamata Information Centre on Broadway). Drive a little further east and you can witness the awe-inspiring, 153-metre tall Wairere Falls.

Another highlight an hour’s drive out of Hamilton city is the Waitomo Caves. This network of caves features numerous stalactite and stalagmite formations, as well as underground limestone rivers. The cave system also includes the majestic Waitomo Glowworm Cave.

Hamilton’s climate is temperate, with an average high and average low of 24 and 13 degrees Celsius in January, and 14 and 4 in July.

Hamilton International Airport is served domestically by Air New Zealand and Sun Air, travelling from destinations including Christchurch, Rotorua and Auckland.