The Hamilton & Waikato region is readily accessible and easy to get around, whether flying in, driving, or travelling by train or bus. Self-drive is the most popular option and most attractions are within a comfortable hour’s drive of Hamilton city, while its airport services flights throughout New Zealand. The airport is about 20 minutes’ drive from Hamilton’s Transport Centre, from where buses and coaches cover the city, outlying towns and other national destinations.

Transport options in Hamilton & Waikato


Air Services

Acting as a gateway to Hamilton & Waikato and the Central North Island, Hamilton International Airport has frequent direct domestic flights to major cities, tourist hotspots and most destinations within New Zealand.

The airport is within an easy drive of major attractions like Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton Movie Set as well as other central north island regions such as Rotorua and Taupo.

It has rental car agencies, shuttle and taxi services available as well as a café, retail outlets and a hotel on site. Shuttle services cover Hamilton and other nearby towns, as well as going further afield.


Road Links

The Hamilton and Waikato region has an extensive and well maintained roading network, including major state highways.

State Highway 1 passes through the region taking in picturesque towns such as Cambridge and Tirau as well as the city of Hamilton, and connecting it via expressway to Auckland in the north and Taupo in the south. State Highway 3 takes in Waitomo along with neighbours Otorohanga and Te Kuiti.

Most of the major rental car companies have offices in the city and at the airport. To make things even easier, Hamilton Transport Centre is the hub for bus and coach services, covering the city and region as well as all North Island destinations.


Rail Travel

Rail offers a convenient alternative to driving that opens up different scenic views of the countryside and the region’s towns.

From Hamilton, the main trunkline takes passengers north to Auckland and south as far as Wellington (with further connections available across Cook Strait).

The service is daily for most of the year, and three days a week during the winter months.

Thermal Highway

Thermal Explorer Highway Touring Route

The Hamilton & Waikato region is part of the Thermal Explorer Highway – a touring route which exits Auckland and takes in Hamilton & Waikato, Rotorua and Taupo. The Thermal Explorer Highway also connects up with the Volcanic Loop – an extension of the route which runs from Taupo to Ruapehu. Working in conjunction with the Pacific Coast Highway, the two touring routes provide the perfect way to take in the best of what the Central North Island has to offer. For more information on the touring routes as well as things to see and do along the way please click here.


Driving Safely in New Zealand

A self-drive holiday in the Hamilton & Waikato region is the perfect way to explore the many attractions and hidden gems on offer. Driving in New Zealand can be very different to driving in other countries and it’s important to understand our rules for driving in New Zealand before you get behind the wheel here. The Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand has put together a guide including things to consider when planning your trip and as you make your journey around the country as well as some suggested driving routes. To find out more about driving safely in NZ please visit drivesafe.org.nz.


Regional Tours & Transport

Whether you are looking for a day tour, multi-day trip or just transport to a key attraction in the Hamilton & Waikato region, there are plenty of options to suit. Tour companies, shuttle services, rental cars, campervan hire, coach services, chartered flights and more are all on offer. Search transport options in the Hamilton & Waikato region here.

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