If you’re looking for a destination central to many interesting locations but with a slightly rural atmosphere, Hamilton could be the place for you. Situated in the North Island, a two hour drive south of Auckland, Hamilton caters to the whole Waikato region. It also has an International Airport so is accessible from many places.
Victoria Street runs the length of the centre of Hamilton and is the hub for shopping and dining. There are many cafes and bars open all hours within walking distance of the major hotels. All tastes and cultures are catered for and if you want to “rage” the night away there are plenty of clubs with live bands playing most evenings.
For the shopaholics, and who isn’t these days, there are two main malls – Centreplace and Downtown Plaza. There are plenty of clothes, sports and gift shops to browse. Drop the kids off to a movie at the Village 7 cinemas next door to keep them happy.
If you’re of a more cultural frame of mind, take a walk to the south end of Victoria St to the Waikato Museum of Art & History. Open daily from 10.00am – 4.30 pm it often has exhibitions of particular artists.
If you revel in the great outdoors, Hamilton has many parks and walkways. With the Waikato River running through the heart of the city there are many pretty walking and running tracks along it’s length. If you just want to relax and enjoy the scenery, take a cruise up the river on the Waipa Delta paddleboat. The night dinner cruise is particularly popular. A must see for gardeners is Hamilton Gardens, situated on Cobham Drive. It is a floral picture with many wonderful plants and theme gardens. After the gardens, to keep the children happy, take them to the Hamilton Zoo. It has become one of N.Z.’s finest, open daily from 9a.m. – 5p.m., with a large range of animals such as, tigers, zebra, giraffes and wildlife.
Mystery Creek is also situated on the outskirts of Hamilton. It has become famous as the home of the Agricultural Fielddays every June. This event is a farmers paradise where he can view all the latest farming equipment and techniques. The rest of the year Mystery Creek is used for many sporting and cultural events.
The people of Waikato are into their sport in a big way. There are many great venues including the new Waikato Stadium, home of the Chiefs rugby team, Westpac Trust Park for the cricket, and the Waikato Racing Club’s Racecourse at Te Rapa.
No matter when you visit the city there’s sure to be some sporting event to entertain you and don’t forget to wear your red, yellow and black colours!
For the keen golfer who just can’t leave his clubs at home, there are many golf clubs in and around Hamilton with reasonable green fees. A popular course for the whole family to match their skills is “Pitch & Putt” 18 hole, 3 par course off Hukunui Road.
If you and your friends are up for real adventure then take a 1/2 hour drive out of town to Waitomo Caves. Surrounded by picturesque native bush, here is where you can take on more courageous pursuits. Black Water Rafting, Underground Cave Exploring, Horse-Trekking or just check out the natural Glowworm Caves. There is accommodation here for back-packers or the old-fashioned atmosphere of the Waitomo Hotel.
Another popular tourist destination, 22kms south of Hamilton, is the attractive English-style “Town of Trees”- Cambridge. The heart of the N.Z. Thoroughbred Industry, there are many stud farms, including world famous “Cambridge Stud” in the area. Check out the Information Centre for details of stud tours which are well worth a visit. Antique shops and cafes abound in Cambridge. If you’re searching for that special piece of antique jewellery or furniture, you just might find it here.
Just south of Cambridge is Lake Karapiro famous for it’s water sports. This is a great spot to take a picnic and watch the rowers or water-skiers that are bound to be in action. Alternatively take a walk across the top of the Karapiro Dam which is quite awe-inspiring.
If you’re visiting the area in the cooler months you might like a visit to the Waingaro Hot Pools, situated about 1/2 an hour inland from Ngaruawahia. This is a great place to relax in hot pools, spas, or for a bit more fun – try the hydroslide. Set in green bush, relax and take a drink at the hotel overlooking the pools.
Anytime you visit Hamilton I’m sure you’ll be impressed with it’s friendly people and fun things to do. If you want a true taste of “green” New Zealand you’ve come to the right city!