The picturesque Hamilton & Waikato countryside with its tree-lined paddocks and meandering river truly offers insight into heartland New Zealand. Stop at a roadside stall to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, or perhaps flowers freshly cut from a nearby garden. Take in the ever changing views of hills and hedgerows and keep an eye out for the sight of a herd of cows ambling up the race to be milked or thoroughbred stallions grazing in their paddocks.
Stay a while
Abundant farmstay options provide an ideal way to sample the rural lifestyle and meet the people who farm the land. If you want to know the story of the Hamilton & Waikato Region, and enjoy its setting, there is no better starting point, with the chance to sample fresh local produce at the same time. Stay among orchards, tour a dairy farm, walk through an olive grove or vineyard – the options are numerous. You may be able to help with feeding calves and lambs during the season, or perhaps even milk a cow. Visit in June and you can also check out the largest agricultural show in the southern hemisphere, the National Agricultural Fieldays where the region’s leading research and innovations are on show as well as entertainment ranging from Rural Bachelor of the Year to Agriculture Wearable Arts.
Authentic farm shows provide an insight into rural life in New Zealand and offer up-close animal encounters. In Waitomo, the Roseland Waitomo Farm Show takes a lighthearted and entertaining look into life on the farm with sheep mustering, sheep shearing and animal health and care demonstrations.
The view from horseback
Another way to get to know the countryside is by guided horse trek, with plenty of options for riders of all abilities including novices, taking in everything from the Waikato River to more adventurous rides through rugged back country and along Raglan’s dramatic west coast beach. You’ll also get to hear about the area and its stories from a friendly guide who, chances are, has lived in the area all his or her life and is keen to share their slice of paradise.
Built for speed
The Hamilton & Waikato Region is home to thoroughbred racing in New Zealand, producing the likes of legendary sire Sir Tristram and his equally successful son Zabeel. Leafy oak trees border the iconic horse stud fences and you can take a tour of a stud farm at Cambridge or Matamata to learn more about this multimillion dollar industry, or watch the horses compete at one of many thoroughbred racing, trotting or polo meets around the region. Also from the region is Olympic show jumping champion Charisma and equestrian rider Andrew Nicholson who has won gold at the World Equestrian Games and scooped silver and gold medals at the Olympics.
Cream of the crop
The Hamilton & Waikato Region’s lush growing conditions have proven to be the perfect setting for a variety of food producers. Market gardens and orchards are spotted throughout the Hamilton & Waikato Region, which is also home to New Zealand’s only tea plantation. It’s not surprising that the country’s top dairy region is also home to award-winning cheesemakers, and the growing food scene has led to the proliferation of farmers markets and specialty food stores selling fresh and local produce.