It may not be as popular as other landlocked NZ cities, but the North Island town of Hamilton can hold its own when it comes to fascinating local culture and the lush greenery typical of Kiwiland. And if you’re looking for nightlife, the thriving set of bars and restaurants along the main stretch almost leaves Auckland in the dust!
For 500-plus species of critters – not to mention NZ’s only tapir – check out the fantastic Hamilton Zoo. For a bit of culture and all sorts of contemporary Kiwi artwork, meander through the gallery at ArtsPost, or take a cruise and enjoy some ace Hamilton cuisine down the Waikato River. Whether it’s the stunning natural setting, friendly locals or laid-back vibe, Hamilton will make its way into your heart and stay there.
Hamilton’s Top 10
10. Hot-Air Balloon Ride Wake up to Hamilton from the sky and gaze across to the sunrise peeking out from behind the snow-capped distant mountains.
5. Bank No, not an actual one! This 19th century bank has been revamped into a killer bar with a fantastic selection of local wine and beers on tap.
9. Wairere Falls Just out of the city in the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park, they are the highest in North Island at over 153m (502ft).
4. MV Waipa Delta While away the afternoon in this replica of an 1876 paddle steamer.
8. Kayak Tour There are plenty of tour options around the city for getting on a canoe and exploring the rivers.
3. Waikato Museum Crammed with all sorts of interesting art, science and history in five massive areas.
7. Victoria Cinema If you’re feeling particularly highbrow, sit back with a cocktail while watching the swankiest of art-house films.
2. Riff Raff Check out the life-size statue of the time-warping alien from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in honour of former Hamilton resident (and Rocky Horror creator) Richard O’Brien.
6. Waterworld Drop the kids at the waterslide and float the afternoon away in the spa.
1. Hamilton Gardens From the extravagant themed flowerbeds to the fragrant herb patch, it’s a glorious place to stop and, um, smell the roses.
For the biggest Christian music festival in the Southern Hemisphere, check out the Parachute Festival in January.
Celebrate the multicultural mishmash in Hamilton at the annual Indigo Festival in March.
Rev heads should head over in April for the ITM400 Hamilton Supercar Race.
Rug up for the annual Waikato Winter Show in May (technically May is still spring, but we won’t burst their bubbles…)
Get your stopwatches ready for the spectacular rowing regatta that is the Gallagher Great Race in September.
When To Go
Hamilton enjoys warm, humid summers, and actually has the most summertime thunderstorms in New Zealand.
Winter is usually pretty frosty, but during the day is quite mild and great for exploring the museums.
The absolute best time to head into Hamilton is during spring and autumn when the air is dry and the sunshine is ace!
Hamilton has an expansive bus service that is relatively cheap – take advantage!
Pick up a four-ride day pass for $4.60 if you’re planning on doing some heavy-duty exploring.
The CBD of Hamilton is quite small and easily walkable if you’re keen for a stroll.
Though in the long shadow of Auckland, the North Island, New Zealand city of Hamilton is nonetheless worth a visit. While a coastline dearth may have the city at a slight disadvantage from other North Island tourist destinations, as a gateway to the scenic Waikato region, Hamilton is superb.
With just under 200,000 people, Hamilton is indeed the urban heart of a traditional, culturally vibrant area of New Zealand. Explicit proof is on hand at points of interest like the Hamilton Farmers' Market and Waikato Museum. The city plays host to a number of important events throughout the year, like the Hamilton Gardens Summer Festival, Hamilton Underground Film Festival, National Agricultural Fieldays and Couch Soup Festival. For a typical slice of Hamilton life, head to Waikato Stadium to catch Waikato Rugby Union action or indeed, Seddon Park for cricket. No visit to the city is complete however, without a tour of Hamilton Gardens, the most popular attraction in the region.
Attractions & Activities
Restaurant & Nightlife
Hamilton has a temperate climate, with four distinct seasons and above average rainfall for the year.
- Summer (November to February) 10-24°C
- Fall (March to May) 7-23°C
- Winter (June to August) 4-15°C
- Spring (September to October) 7-18°C
26 hotels in Hamilton, NZ
Set on the banks of Waikato River, Hotel Ibis Hamilton Tainui offers chic comfortable accommodations and scenic city or river views to business and leisure travellers while in Hamilton. The hotel... More
Whether in this part of New Zealand for business or leisure, travellers find suitable base in the comfortable accommodations of centrally located Quest On Ward Serviced Apartments Hamilton. This... More
Set in the heart of the city, Novotel Tainui Hamilton makes for an accessible base for business and leisure travellers in Hamilton. While in this part of New Zealand, visitors can check out... More
Aaron Court Motor Inn Hamilton welcomes travellers to comfortable and affordable accommodations conveniently set close to the city centre. Vacationers at this Hamilton motel can catch races at Te... More
Vacationers looking for self-serviced spaces while visiting the lively Hamilton City find suitable base at Motel Six Hamilton. Travellers at this cosy hotel can play slot machines and bowling at... More
Beetham Park Motel Hamilton is located close to Hamilton's CBD, Waikato Stadium, V8 Supercar Track, Waterworld and ProDrive Golf Driving Range. It is in vicinity to Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton Zoo,... More
With all the contemporary comforts, the Park View Motor Lodge Hamilton is a simple timeless refuge, offering elegant accommodation and copious services for a memorable stay. GeneralPark View Motor... More
Offering unique service and warm hospitality, the Ventura Inn & Suites Hamilton is the right choice for a memorable holiday. This property is only metres from the city's businesses, best... More
Presenting comfortable accommodation and convenient services, the Abbots Hamilton Hotel and Conference Centre is an ideal place for both business and leisure travellers. GeneralThis hotel offers 2... More