• Middle-earth, Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata, New Zealand
  • Family Activities in Hamilton & Waikato: Waitomo Caves
  • Free Attractions in Waikato, Hamilton Gardens

Explore Your Own Backyard this Summer

Discover your own backyard this Summer with a range of great things to see and do in the Mighty Waikato

Lego at Waikato Museum, Hamilton

Family Fun

Make the most of family outings and holidays with the abundance of family-friendly activities in the region...
Whats on

Summer Events

From Rugby Sevens to music festivals, there are a great range of events on this Summer
Raglan Sunset, Raglan NZ

Top Summer Activities

Make the most of your break with top Waikato summer activities all in your own backyard


Free attractions

Experience the wonders and hidden gems of the region on any budget with an abundance of free activities and attractions.
Hakarimata Summit Track

Walking Trails

From spectacular waterfalls to native forests - explore the variety of walks on offer in the Mighty Waikato region.
The Timber Trail, Cycling, Waitomo, NZ
Get on your bike

Cycle Trails

There are hundreds of kilometres of trail to discover, offering riders a close-up look at the region's picturesque scenery and fascinating past. From the Waikato River Trails and the Timber Trail to the Hauraki Rail Trail, the Te Awa River Ride and many more...

Things to see & do

Activity Suggestions

Explore your own backyard with these great activity suggestions. From underground wonders and Middle-earth Movie Magic to wildlife encounters, kayak trips and much more.

  • Waitomo Glowworm CavesVisit the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves and gaze in awe at the galaxy of glowworms. Grab a Cave combo deal and visit the Ruakuri Cave as well.
  • Hobbiton Movie SetDiscover movie magic with a guided tour through the permanent set as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies.
  • Hamilton GardensExplore the award-winning Hamilton Gardens and discover different civilisations and historically important garden styles from the farthest reaches of the world.
  • SkyCity HamiltonCheck out SkyCity Hamilton's new Bowl & Social for ten pin bowling, great food and timezone games.
  • Waitomo Adventures: Get your adrenaline pumping with a zipline, abseil or black water rafting trip with Waitomo Adventures, or try their newest family friendly tour, the Troll Cave.
  • Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari: Discover plentiful walks through native forest for close encounters with birdlife and reptiles.
  • Hamilton ZooGet up close and personal with exotic animals such as Lemur and Rhino with a Face2Face encounter at Hamilton Zoo.
  • Waikato MuseumWith top art, history and interactive kids exhibitions the Waikato Museum is a perfect indoor activity for the entire family.
  • Hampton DownsChallenge friends and family to a few laps of go karting at Hampton Downs and get the blood pumping with a V8 Muscle Car or Supercar experience.
  • Zealong Tea EstateTreat yourself to a high tea overlooking the stunning tea plantation.
  • Lake District Adventures: Take a magical glowwom kayak tour on Lake Karapiro, or hire some bikes to explore the Waikato River Trails.
  • Raglan Surf SchoolLearn to surf on Raglan's world famous left-hand surf breaks.
  • Good George BreweryLearn all about the brewing process and their award-winning beers with a Brewery Tour, or enjoy a bite to eat in the dining hall.
  • Go Skydive: Get your adrenaline pumping with a skydive from up to 13,000ft, providing stunning views of the Waikato region below.
  • EscapistCan you escape in 60 minutes? Get your brain working with immersive escape rooms and check out their board game cafe in the heart of Hamilton. 
  • Sculpture Park: Take a walk along the beautiful 2km art-in-nature trail and discover more than 100 sculptures and rare trees along the way. 
  • Plus much more.

Free Attractions

Free Attractions in Hamilton & Waikato

From meandering through stunning gardens to discovering picturesque waterfalls and climbing to mountaintop views - there are plenty of free attractions to enjoy in the Mighty Waikato.

  • Waiorongomai Valley: Step back into gold mining history as you explore the Waiorongomai Valley in Te Aroha
  • Blue Spring at Te Waihou Walkway: Visit the internationally acclaimed springs, with water so pure its supplies around 60% of NZ's bottled water
  • Wairere Falls: Walk the Wairere Falls track near Matamata for stunning views of the falls and out over the region
  • Otorohanga Kiwiana Walk: Pick up a quiz sheet from the Otorohanga i-SITE and look for clues on the Ed Hillary walkways
  • Hamilton Gardens: Download and follow the Hamilton Gardens Children's Discovery Trail activity sheet
  • Mangaokewa Scenic Reserve: Explore the attractive bush walk to the Cascade Waterfalls
  • Hamilton Lake Domain: Stroll around the lake and let the kids loose on the playground
  • Hakarimata Walkway: Visit ancient Kauri trees, tackle the summit stairs or try the family friendly rail trail tracks
  • Gallagher Bike Skills Park: Helps your children to learn essential bike skills in a safe environment
  • Mokena Geyser: Watch the world's only naturally hot soda water geyser erupt every 40 minutes in Te Aroha - while you are there check out the free foot pools in the domain
  • Cycle Trails: From the banks of the Waikato River to the ancient Pureora Forest, there are many cycle trails to enjoy
  • Plus much more

Upcoming Events

As well as the range of sporting events on in the region, there is a stellar line-up of music festival, markets and other great events happening throughout the Mighty Waikato. 

  • HSBC NZ Sevens - 25 & 26 January 2020: The HSBC New Zealand Sevens turns 21 in 2020 and this year's tournament includes both the men and women’s teams. This event sold out in 2018 and 2019 so make sure you get in quick.
  • Hobbiton™ Movie Set Mid Summer Celebration - 25 January 2020: As we approach the summer solstice marking the longest day of the year, Hobbiton Movie Set are hosting a special marketplace celebration. 
  • Bugs! Our Background Heroes - Until 9 February 2020: A family-friendly, hands-on educational experience that brings visitors face-to-face with some real live mini-monsters at Waikato Museum.
  • The Amazing Dinosaur Discovery - 26 December 2019-27 January 2020: A 3 hour interactive dinosaur walk through that brings prehistoric times alive again with 30 lifelike dinosaurs. 
  • Festival One - 24-27 January 2020: A multi-day Christian festival, which brings together music, creative arts and culture to create a community atmosphere within the festival.
  • Cricket - Various dates: With a combination of test matches and ODI all on the agenda, there are plenty of opportunities to grab some mates and head to the cricket in Hamilton this summer.
  • Soundsplash - 17-19 January 2020: A three day summer festival of music, freedom and expression, held in the Wainui reserve in Raglan. 
  • Gourmet in the Gardens - Until 29 March 2020: The region’s best food trucks descend on the Hamilton Gardens to delight the punters eagerly awaiting tasty tucker on sunny Sunday afternoons.
  • 2020 4 & Rotary Nationals - Show & Shine - 25-27 January 2020: Various events taking part across the weekend including Show & Shine at Claudelands and Drag Racing at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park.
  • Plus many more...

Family visiting from out of town?

Accommodation in Hamilton & Waikato NZ

From inner city hotels and motels to rural lodges and beachside holiday parks, the region boasts a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes.

  • Novotel Tainui Hamilton: On the banks of the Waikato River, within a short distance of the Hamilton City section of the Te Awa cycleway, Novotel offers all the creature comforts of a large hotel.
  • Distinction Hotel Hamilton: Boasting 147 rooms and suites, many refurbished in 2017, free unlimited Wi-Fi, restaurant & bar, fitness centre, indoor swimming pool & spa pools.
  • Ibis Tainui Hamilton: The hotel presents the only restaurant in the city with breath taking views of the Waikato River - a great place to enjoy unique local flavors
  • Ventura Inn & Suites Hamilton: A warm welcome that's worth checking into - Ventura is great value accommodation for a night away.
  • Hidden Lake Hotel & Apartments: Boutique and contemporary accommodation situated in the heritage town of Cambridge. Relax with delicious share plates and local wines, treat yourself to a spa treatment and enjoy the beautiful views. 
  • Jet Park Hotel Hamilton Airport: Conveniently located adjacent to Hamilton Airport. Enjoy a quiet setting, home-style food, and replenishing outdoor spaces at Jet Park Hotel Hamilton Airport. 

Family flying to Hamilton?

Hamilton Airport, Hamilton, Waikato, NZ

With direct flights daily from Wellington, Christchurch and more, it's easy for the extended family to fly to the Waikato for a visit this winter.

  • Find Flights: Fly direct to Hamilton airport. With taxis and Uber it is super easy to get to the city centre from the airport. Check Air New Zealand's Grabaseat for today's deals. 
  • Hertz Hamilton: Conveniently located at Hamilton Airport, you can hop off the plane and grab a rental car from Hertz.