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Explore Your Own Backyard

From underground adventures and inner-city fun to free attractions and more

There is plenty to explore in your own backyard this winter including great family friendly activities, free attractions, outdoor adventures, wildlife encounters, top events and much more

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Underground Adventure

Millions of years in the making, the region’s caves, including the world-famous ones at Waitomo, provides a playground unlike any other. As if it’s not enough that nature has carved out a glowworm-studded underground marvel, enterprising locals have added adventure activities to enhance the experience further.
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Top Pick

Free attractions

The diverse Hamilton & Waikato region provides an abundance of free activities and attractions so you can experience the wonders and hidden gems of the region on any budget.
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Top 10 Winter Activities

From indoor activities and underground adventures to hidden gems, foodie finds and much more - explore your own backyard this winter with these Top 10 Winter Activities in Hamilton & Waikato

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From sporting matches and kids productions such as Disney on Ice, to school holiday programmes and much more
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Cycle Trails

There are hundreds of kilometres of trail to discover, offering riders a close-up look at the region's picturesque scenery and fascinating past. From the Waikato River Trails and the Timber Trail to the Hauraki Rail Trail, the Te Awa River Ride and many more...
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Walking Trails

From casual strolls along the river to overnight bush excursions and winding mountain tracks the Hamilton & Waikato region has a variety of great walking trails to suit everyone.

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Explore Your Own Backyard

Free Attractions

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From meandering through stunning gardens to discovering picturesque waterfalls and more - there are plenty of free attractions to enjoy this winter in your own backyard.

  • Waiorongomai Valley: (pictured above) Step back into gold mining history as you explore the Waiorongomai Valley in Te Aroha
  • Blue Spring at Te Waihou Walkway: Visit the internationally acclaimed springs, with water so pure its supplies around 70% of NZ's bottled water
  • Wairere Falls: Walk the Wairere Falls track near Matamata for stunning views of the falls and out over the region
  • Otorohanga Kiwiana Walk: Pick up a quiz sheet from the Otorohanga i-SITE and look for clues on the Ed Hillary walkways
  • Hamilton Gardens: Download and follow the Hamilton Gardens Children's Discovery Trail activity sheet
  • Mangaokewa Scenic Reserve: Explore the attractive bush walk to the Cascade Waterfalls
  • Hamilton Lake Domain: Stroll around the lake and let the kids loose on the playground
  • Hakarimata Walkway: Visit ancient Kauri trees, tackle the summit stairs or try the family friendly rail trail tracks
  • Gallagher Bike Skills Park: Helps your children to learn essential bike skills in a safe environment
  • Mokena Geyser: Watch the world's only naturally hot soda water geyser erupt every 40 minutes in Te Aroha
  • Cycle Trails: From the banks of the Waikato River to the ancient Pureora Forest, there are many cycle trails to enjoy
  • Plus much more

Winter Activities

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From underground adventure and Middle-earth movie magic to wildlife encounters and inn-city fun - there are plenty of great activities to enjoy this winter school holidays.

  • Waitomo Glowworms: Visit the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves - sure to be a hit with all ages.
  • Black Water Rafting: Get your adrenalin pumping with a Black Water Rafting trip with Waitomo Adventures - perfect for the older kids
  • Animal Encounters: Get up close and personal with exotic animals such as Lemur and Rhino at Hamilton Zoo
  • Middle-earth: Discover movie magic with a guided tour through the now permanent Hobbiton Movie Set
  • Waikato River Explorer: Experience the unique beauty of the Waikato River with a cruise on the Waikato River Explorer
  • Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari: Plentiful walks through native forest for close encounters with native birdlife and reptiles
  • Inner City Fun: Challenge family and friends to a friendly game of ten-pin bowling or enjoy the dining options on offer at SKYCITY Hamilton
  • Zealong Tea Estate: Take some time for yourself and discover NZ's only Oolong Tea Plantation and enjoy high-tea at the cafe
  • Waikato Museum: With great interactive children's exhibitions, the Waikato Museum is a perfect indoor activity
  • Te Aroha Mineral Spas: Warm up this winter with a soak in the Te Aroha Mineral Spas.
  • Retail Therapy: Get some retail therapy or treat the family to a movie at NZ's largest shopping complex, Te Awa at The Base
  • Plus much more

Upcoming Events 

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From concerts and expos to sporting matches and school holiday events; check out the great winter events on the calendar in the Hamilton & Waikato region.

  • Magic Home Games: The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic take on the Mystics, Tactix, Firebirds and Thunderbirds at Claudelands Arena from May - July.
  • Waikato Baby Expo - 9 July: From bump top birth and beyond, the Waikato Baby Expo provides everything you need for your new addition.
  • Okoroire Mid-Winter Fun Ride - 31 July: Brave the frosty winter morning and get your heart pumping with the Okoroire Mid-Winter Fun Ride.
  • Karioi Classic - 31 July: Challenge yourself on this mountain bike race over a rich and varied landscape, encountering windy tracks and gravel roads.
  • The Wiggles - 17 July: The Wiggles are celebrating their 25th birthday at Claudelands Arena this July.
  • YMCA Hamilton School Holiday Programmes - 11-22 July: The YMCA Hamilton has school holiday programmes operate daily at locations all over Hamilton.
  • Children’s Winter Art School - 11-22 July: An exciting school holiday programme for young artists. All children will work around the same subjects on projects suitable for their age and skill level.
  • Planet Warriors - 22 June - 31 July: Experience the interactive and inspiring world of Planet Warriors where every visitor can take up the challenge of becoming one of the planet's newest warriors.
  • Waikato Museum July School Holiday Programme - 12-21 July: Have fun at the Museum these school holidays with kiwi craft, creatures, mask-making, revolting rhymes and more.
  • Disney on Ice - 10-14 August: Get ready to enter a world of enchantment when Disney On Ice returns to Claudelands Arena in August.

Family visiting from out of town

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With a range of accommodation options, car hire and Hamilton Airport on your back doorstep, it is easy to accommodate for the extended family - or perhaps treat yourself and enjoy a 'staycation' while exploring the Waikato region.

  • Novotel Tainui Hamilton: On the banks of the Waikato River, within a short distance of the Hamilton City section of the Te Awa cycleway, Novtel offers all the creature comforts of a large hotel.
  • Sudima Hotel Hamilton: In the heart of Hamilton City, Sudima Hamilton is walking distance to all major resturants and entertainment destinations.
  • Bella Vista Hamilton: Bella Vista Hamilton offers motel accommodation which caters for cyclists, perfect for families and conveniently located in Hamilton City.
  • Te Aroha Landing: Neslted on the banks of the Waihou River in Te Aroha, Te Aroha Landing is the prefect accommodation option for those riding the Hauraki Rail Trail or exploring Te Aroha.
  • Ibis Tainui Hamilton: The hotel presents the only restaurant in the city with breath taking views of the Waikato River - a great place to enjoy unique local flavors
  • Hamilton Airport: With direct daily flights to most major NZ destinations including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Nelson, its easy and convenient to fly in and out of Hamilton Airport.
  • Car Hire: Need an extra set of wheels to ferry the family around? Check out the range of car hire options at Hamilton Airport including Hertz Hamilton
  • Plus many more options