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A Guide to Hamilton
Know Before You Go
- Visit the Hobbiton Movie Set. It's the ultimate day trip for any Lord of the Rings fan visiting New Zealand.
- Get out of your hotel room at night. Victoria Street is home to an excellent selection of bars, nightclubs and casinos that will entertain you into the early hours of the morning.
- Spend a few hours exploring the Hamilton Gardens. It's won the International Garden of the Year award, and there is no entrance fee.
- Plan your trip around the Balloons Over Waikato Festival. Each year, hot air balloons fly over the region, decorating the sky with their unique designs and colours.
- Get online for free. There is complimentary Wi-Fi available in most of Hamilton's public spaces as well as at any of the public libraries, McDonalds and Starbucks.
Getting Around Hamilton
- Hit the pavements. Hamilton is easily explored on foot in most places within a 5-10 minute walk.
- Take a free CBD shuttle. It runs five days a week from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and the bus departs every 10 minutes.
- Hop on board the public bus. Hamilton has an extensive route with more than 90 bus stops. Fares start at NZD 3.30, and you can also buy day passes to save money on transport costs.
- Rent a bicycle. If you want to explore the city and its surrounds at your own pace, you can hire a bike for NZD 35 per day.
- Get a taxi. There aren't that many metered cabs in Hamilton compared to other cities. If you're trying to get a ride during peak times, you might end up waiting up to an hour.
- Hire a car. If you're planning a few day trips, it works out cheaper to rent a vehicle. Rentals can be picked up at the airport or from one of the companies in the CBD.
When is The Best Time to Visit Hamilton?
The best time to visit Hamilton is between December and February. Temperatures are a warm 23ºC, and there's little chance of rain ruining any outdoor activities. The days are also longer, giving you more time to explore the city and the surrounding area. But you will need to book your trip a few months in advance as it's high season and school holidays.
If you're looking to escape the crowds, opt for the quieter winter months. From June to August, temperatures hover at a cool 14ºC, keeping most tourists away. If you don't mind packing a few extra layers, you'll have all of Middle-earth's attractions to yourself.
For hikers, the best time to visit Hamilton is during autumn. The colder weather between March and May makes trekking through the region more comfortable, and there are fewer people on the trails.
Spring (September to November) is a good option if you want the warmer weather without the crowds. The city's gardens will be in bloom, and hotel rates have yet to increase for high season.
Airports in Hamilton
Hamilton Airport is the second busiest airport in New Zealand. It boasts the fourth longest runway in the country with Air New Zealand and Sunair both operating flights to the main cities on north and south island.
Getting To and From Hamilton Airport
For frugal travellers, the cheapest way to get to Hamilton Airport is with the shuttle bus service. Fares start around NZD 30, and it takes around 20 minutes to get into the city. You can book your spot either once you arrive or online.
Metered taxi stands are located outside the entrance of the airport. Depending on traffic, it might take you 20-40 minutes to reach your hotel.
Hamilton Airport also has car rental services for travellers that want more freedom getting around.