- Cafes, restaurants, nightlife
- Hamilton Zoo
- Hamilton Gardens
- SkyCity Hamilton
- Waikato Museum
- Hot Air Balloon Ride
- Victoria on the River
- Hamilton Farmers’ Market
- Iconic Events: Balloons Over Waikato, Fieldays, Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival
Also known by its Māori name Kirikiriroa, Hamilton is the fourth largest city in the country with a young, smart and innovative population of some 180,000 – about half of whom are under 30 years of age.
It is the gateway not only to the Waikato with its abundance of leisure and activity experiences, but also to the central North Island region. Just an hour and a half south of Auckland, Hamilton is readily accessed thanks to its central geographical location and excellent transport links including an extensive expressway as well as rail and Hamilton Airport’s flight schedule that provide direct connections with Wellington, Christchurch, Napier/Hastings, Palmerston North and Nelson.
Downtown and across the river in Hamilton East there are eateries that proudly hero locally grown produce and gourmet food products, and an eclectic mix of bars where the likes of local craft beers and artisan gin are increasingly featured.
There is also much to appeal to anyone seeking to purchase something special or simply to browse the retail scene, from quirky laneway boutiques, homeware and art stores to shopping complexes such as the central city Centre Place, Chartwell Shopping Centre or The Base at Te Rapa which is one of the largest in New Zealand.
Home to the Tainui peoples, Hamilton is also where more than 80 different ethnic groups live. This diversity translates into a rich cultural tapestry that includes art galleries and museums, such as the highly respected Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga on Waikato where one of the highlights for visitors is the majestic Te Winika, a 200 year old waka taua (Māori war canoe).
Throughout the year Hamilton stages events that also reflect the diversity of the city. Sports fixtures are enormously popular with rugby a major drawcard, both the games played by the hometown team The Chiefs as well as the All Blacks clashes with international touring teams.
Theatrical performances, largescale concerts, and the annual spectacular of the Balloons Over Waikato hot air balloon festival, the National Fieldays and the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival mean a packed events calendar.
While there are many not to be missed attractions and experiences in Hamilton here are some of the highlights this fun, youthful but considered city offers:
- Hamilton Zoo where there are more than 600 native and exotic creatures
- Hamilton Gardens’ newest garden, the Ancient Egyptian Garden
- The entertaining street art Riff Raff statue (remember The Ricky Horror Picture Show?)
- Hot air ballooning over the city
- ArtsPost Galleries & Shop in the heritage former post office building where the works of local artists are exhibited and offered for sale
- SkyCity Hamilton for unsurpassed entertainment and 10-pin bowling
- Victoria on the River, an amphitheatre-style park overlooked by a giant mural depicting a soaring kārearea (native falcon)
- Hamilton Farmers’ Market held Sunday mornings in The Barn at Claudelands
- Classics Museum for classic cars and motoring memorabilia as well as the 1950s themed jukebox diner for burgers and shakes, Elvis, Abba and Betty Boop.
How far to:
- Auckland: 125kms, 2 hours
- Waitomo: 80kms, 1 hour 15 minutes
- Rotorua: 106kms, 1 hour 40 mins
- Tauranga: 120kms, 1 hour 50 mins
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