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.
Featuring over 18 uniquely themed Gardens, the Hamilton Gardens are a pleasure to explore. Immerse yourself in another country and time as you step from an Italian Renaissance Garden into a Chinese Scholars Garden, American Modernist Garden, or New Zealand’s only rational Maori horticultural garden, Te Parapara, and many more. Stop for a picnic beside the lake or playground and relax in the wide open spaces before continuing to exploring the 58 hectares.
Location: Cobham Drive Hamilton
One of the region’s true hidden gems Kawhia’s hot water beach provides hours of free fun. Head to the end of Ocean Beach road at low tide , climb over the sand dunes down onto the beach, then keep an eye out for the hot water bubbling to the surface, once you find your spot start digging to create your very own natural hot water spa right there in the sand.
Location: Ocean Beach, Ocean Beach Road, Kawhia
Forty minutes south of Hamilton, Maungatautari Ecological Reserve has extra interest from the many native bird species being released and nurtured in the mountain predator free environment. The easy walks in the southern enclosure virtually guarantee a view of endangered New Zealand bird species, now beginning to thrive in the area. Green Metal feeders in the clearing beside the canopy tower provide ample opportunity for viewing the native kaka feeding.
Location: Tari Road, Pukeatua
Mokena Geyser – Te Aroha
Resting quietly at the base of Mt Te Aroha, and behind the Te Aroha Mineral Spa, is a small fenced area that seems quite unassuming, but wait around for about 45 minutes and this small mound shows its importance as the Mokena Geyser – the world’s only hot soda spring geyser. The Geyser feeds the Te Aroha Mineral Spa and the water here has been drawing visitors for over 100 years due to its rejuvenating qualities. While you’re waiting for the Geyser to erupt, take a walk up or around Mt Te Aroha to bide your time with great views and quaint waterfalls.
Location: Te Aroha Domain, Te Aroha
Kaimai Cheese & Over the Moon Dairy Company
Watch the cheese-making process through the viewing windows at these boutique and award winning cheese factories. Kaimai Cheese is known for its flavour, texture and aroma, while Over the Moon Cheese pride themselves on the delicious cheese made from cow’s milk, goats milk and sheep’s milk.
Kaimai Cheese: 2 Hawes Street, Waharoa Matamata
Over the Moon: 33 Tirau Street, Putaruru
Kiwiana Walk – Otorohanga
The self-proclaimed Kiwiana capital of NZ, Otorohanga, proudly celebrates all things kiwi; from No 8 wire to the pavlova and the iconic buzzy bee. For an insight into all things Kiwiana follow the Kiwiana walk through the covered walkway gallery which explores the history and quirky side of kiwi culture.
Location: Main Street, Otorohanga
Walkways – throughout the region
The Hamilton & Waikato regions long rolling landscapes and native bush clad mountains provide for an unlimited number or walking and hiking tracks of all levels.
- The Kauri Loop walk in the Hakarimata ranges in North Waikato, which gets visitors up close with ancient Kauri trees.
Location: Parker Road – off Hakarimata Road, North of Ngaruawahia
- Mangapohue Natural Bridge is part of an impressive limestone gorge. The 17m high limestone arch is the remains of an ancient cave system.
Location: Te Anga Road, Waitomo
- Arapuni Swing Bridge in South Waikato taking in the bush lined gorge and the Waikato River 152m below.
Location: Arapuni Village, Arapuni
- The Blue Spring (Te Waihou Walkways), also in the South Waikato, is so pure it’s bottled.
Location: Leslie Road, South Waikato
- Plus many more
Lake Rotoroa – Hamilton
Also known as Hamilton Lake, Lake Rotoroa is a popular spot year round. Plenty of open space for a picnic or to kick a ball around, or let the kid’s burn off some energy on the large playground. The lakeside walk provides picturesque views of the lake’s surrounds and plenty of opportunity to feed the ducks as well as providing a popular fitness area for locals. Inns Common on the far side of the lake is often home to free entry events throughout the year.
Location: Lake Domain Drive, Hamilton
Waikato River – throughout the region
The Waikato River cuts its way through the middle of the Hamilton & Waikato region providing a plethora of great activities. Try a spot of fishing, or head out on your boat or kayak to explore the river. If you are in Hamilton City the River Walks are a great way to take in the sights of the Waikato River and explore the other side to the city.
Location: Waikato River, Hamilton
Cycle Trails – throughout the region
With the large variety of cycleways throughout the Hamilton & Waikato region, the region is fast becoming a hub of cycling. From short cycles that take in the views of the Waikato River, to multi day tracks that cross farmland and follow old rail lines, or intense mountain biking at its best, the region has something for all levels of cyclers.
Museums & Art Galleries – throughout the region
Take a step back in time and immerse yourself in the colourful stories, strong history, and unique collections of the region. Many of the Museums and Art Galleries throughout the region are free entry allowing you to experience the deeply significant Maori culture that runs through the region, and the inspirational art works that are on offer.
Click here to view the regional museum guide
Waterfalls – throughout the region
From the spectacular 55m high Bridal Veil Falls near Raglan which draws visitors from far and wide, to the lesser known but equally magnificent Wairere Falls near Matamata or the Marokopa Falls near Waitomo. Most are easy accessible via a short stroll along a well formed track, while others require a few hours of your time for a hike or kayak excursion up harbour, but each one is worth it to find these hidden gems.