Day Tripper Options: 1 day

For those looking for activities and attractions within the region that only take a day, these itinerary suggestions are perfect. Catering to a wide range of tastes and interests from contemporary art to hot air ballooning and cheese tasting, not to mention kayaking, hydroslides and bush walking.

Option 1: Hamilton - A Class Act


These suggestions highlight the city’s sophisticated metropolitan experiences.

Suggested activities include:

  • Walk along the riverside. There are plenty of places to enjoy the magnificent Waikato River on both banks.
  • Go shopping at the boutique stores dotted through the city, including European-style Casabella Lane, or in the city’s modern malls, and have lunch at one of the many top street front cafes with their pavement dining.
  • Take in the Waikato Museum for its interactive historical shows or contemporary art exhibitions all under the one roof and over several levels. While there, don’t miss Te Winika, the waka taua (war canoe) on permanent display. Beside the museum, ArtsPost showcases the best local artists at its ever-changing exhibitions, as well as offering fine gift buying opportunities in its shop.
  • Challenge friends and family to a few rounds of Ten Pin Bowling at SKYCITY Hamilton's Bowl & Social.
  • Go sky-high – well nearly – with a magical balloon ride to start the day and see Hamilton and the Waikato spread before you.
  • Walk through Hamilton Gardens. Their themed gardens range from Italian Renaissance to Chinese, with just about everything else in between, and Turtle Lake adds to the picturesque setting.
  • Head to Inspirit Gallery and browse among great art, photography and crafts.
  • Catch a concert or show at one of Hamilton’s theatres, whether in the central city or at the Academy of Performing Arts with its beautiful setting on the university grounds.
  • Make the most of the many fine dining and nightlife options clustered around the popular south end of the city.

Option 2: Hamilton - Family Fun


These suggestions showcase the myriad of family focused activities Hamilton has to offer.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit Waikato Museum and explore the interactive exhibitions, great for children and families (open seven days).
  • To finish off the day with a bit of family fun and team challenge, check out SkyCity’s ten pin bowling accompanied by family-friendly dining.
  • Visit Hamilton Zoo and see the Sumatran Tigers, Chimpanzees and White Rhinos, along with a huge range of other animals. Walk through the largest free flight aviary in Australasia, or get up close to the animals with a Face 2 Face encounter.
  • Have a picnic at Hamilton Gardens with its wide range of themed gardens and open spaces including picturesque Turtle Lake.
  • Cool off at Waterworld where there’s a diving pool, a hydroslide, and a choice of indoor and outdoor pools along with a barbecue area and cafe.

Option 3: North Waikato


Zealong High Tea, Gordonton, NZ

Uniquely significant in both Maori and European history the North Waikato Region celebrates its heritage while welcoming the future through the range of experiences and attractions on offer.

Suggested activities include:

  • Walk about 40mins into the northern side of the Hakarimata Ranges and stand next to the largest kauri trees in the Waikato. 
  • Journey beneath the earth and encounter untouched limestone formations and glowworms at Nikau Caves near the west coast.
  • Picnic on the banks or stroll around the beautifully developed Hakanoa Lake, with its plantings from different regions. A circuit of the lake takes about 1hr 15mins.
  • At Rangiriri Heritage Centre, which is also a tea-rooms, watch a video of the Waikato wars and visit a partly preserved fortification from the battle fought there in 1863.
  • Visit Herb Haven for Victorian high tea (bookings recommended). Stroll around the grounds, and purchase some of its famous garlic sauce; or take its course in bread making (booking required).
  • Enjoy the race action at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park with its full calendar of events. Nearby is the Meremere drag strip, and Huntly holds regular speedway meets.
  • Follow the Waikato War driving tour to key historic locations throughout the North Waikato.
  • Test your skills at making your very own lollipop at Candyland and see how chocolates are made (two shows a day at weekends, public holidays and school holidays).
  • Visit historic Woodlands Homestead. Stroll around the gardens, which are of regional significance, or take a tour of the homestead itself. And enjoy a meal at the café, looking out across a picturesque cricket field and trees.
  • Experience Zealong’s Oolong Tea Plantation, the first of its kind outside of Asia, on the outskirts of northern Hamilton. Learn about the process of growing and harvesting this specialist premium team and enjoy a delicious high tea as you look out over the vista of 1 million tea plants or try the Discover Tea Experience.

Option 4: South Waikato


Te Waihou walkway - The Blue Spring, Putaruru, Waikato, NZ

The South Waikato region is home to the charming country town of Tirau with its antiques, arts and craft shops and home-style cafes. Nearby is the “olde worlde” Okoroire hot springs and hotel while some of the region’s finest river trails and walks can also be found here.

Suggested activities include:

  • Stop off in Tirau, well known for its corrugated iron sculptures. Walk around the township for a spot of retail therapy in the many boutique shops, including antiques and crafts.
  • Visit Tirau Museum, an excellent private collection of Geoff Ernst and a dream for all collectors – you name it, he’s got it (open seven days, closed Mon and Fri mornings). There is also a honey shop on site.
  • Visit Okoroire Hot Springs with its “olde worlde” country pub, classic nine hole golf course and chance for a soak in the hot pools.
  • Check out Over the Moon Cheese in Putaruru. Taste their award-winning range of specialty products and watch the cheeses being made in their artisan dairy.
  • Visit the internationally acclaimed Te Waihou Walkway and Blue Spring, with its pure water that has been underground for up to 100 years. The return walk, over varied terrain, takes about three hours.
  • Explore the Waikato River Trails, a series of river and lakeside walking and biking tracks that encompasses the magic and beauty of native bush, exotic forest and significant wetlands with lake and river views.

Option 5: Hobbiton Movie Set & Surrounds


Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata, NZ

Spend the day in and around the rural community of Matamata when visiting Hobbiton Movie Set.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit Hobbiton Movie set and take a magical guided tour to hear behind the scenes stories and marvel at the set that was created for the epic movies trilogies The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
  • Sample some cheese and watch how it is made at the Kaimai Cheese Factory.
  • Take a guided tour at one of the many thoroughbred horse studs in the area.
  • Visit the Firth Tower Museum for some insight into the pioneering history of the area.
  • Walk to the base or top of the spectacular Wairere Falls.

Option 6: Hamilton City & Surrounds


Base yourself in Hamilton City to explore the wider region, or take in everything the city has to offer from a thriving nightlife to a hub of family friendly activities.

Suggested activities include:

  • Dine in award winning restaurants.
  • Entertain the entire family at SKYCITY with ten-pin bowling, laser tag, a casino, and more.
  • Visit the Hamilton Zoo and try the Face2Face animal encounter.
  • Visit New Zealand’s only Tea Plantation just north of the city, Zealong Tea Estate, and take part in high tea on the discover tea experience.
  • Cool off at Waterworld.
  • Fit in a spot of shopping at one of the many large shopping complexes or boutique shopping lanes.

Option 7: Waitomo & Surrounds


Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Discover Waitomo, New Zealand

The Waitomo Caves is known for its underground adventure options – from magical boat rides under thousands of glowworms, to abseiling 100m deep into the cave system. Above ground has just as much to offer making Waitomo a one day or multi day option.

Suggested Activities include:

  • Take a tour of the world famous Waitomo glowworms caves – a gentle option that includes a gliding boat ride under thousands of glowworms.
  • Try your hand at Black Water Rafting as you don an inner tube and float, jump and climb your way through along the cave streams.
  • Abseiling, zipline, and tackle high rope work on the many other caving tours available.
  • Dine in top restaurants and cafés such as Huhu Café.
  • Walk the Mangapohue Natural Bridge walk and discover the fossilised remains of oysters in the outcrops.
  • Walk to the Marokopa falls.
  • Visit the Otorohanga Kiwi House and see native wildlife including the Kiwi bird.
  • Visit Hairy Feet Waitomo and take a tour of filming locations from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Option 8: Raglan


Raglan Surfing School, Raglan, NZ

The summer hot spot of Raglan is a surfing meca and hub of artistic and eco-friendly activity providing fun for the entire family.

Suggested activities include:

  • Learning to surf at the Raglan Surf School.
  • Learning to Stand Up Paddleboard.
  • Taking a kayaking tour around the harbour.
  • A sunset harbour cruise.
  • Browse the local artist shops throughout the town.
  • Dine in local cafes.
  • Head to the main beach to cool off.
  • Enjoy some true kiwi Fish n Chips.
  • Catch some dinner fishing at the Raglan Wharf.
  • Walk to the 55m high Bridal Veil Falls.
  • Bike the Te Uku Wind Farm track.