Free Attractions

The diverse Waikato region provides an abundance of free activities and attractions so you can experience the wonders and hidden gems of the region on any budget.

Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton Gardens - Hamilton

Featuring uniquely themed gardens, the Hamilton Gardens are a pleasure to explore. Explore themed gardens as you step from an Italian Renaissance Garden into a Chinese Scholars Garden, Modernist Garden, or New Zealand’s only Maori horticultural garden, Te Parapara, and many more. Stop for a picnic beside the lake or playground and relax in the wide open spaces before continuing to explore the 50 hectares.

Kawhia, Waikato, NZ

Ocean Beach, Kawhia

Hot water beach - Kawhia

One of the region’s true hidden gems Kawhia’s hot water beach provides hours of free fun. Head to the end of Ocean Beach road at low tide, climb over the sand dunes down onto the beach, then keep an eye out for the hot water bubbling to the surface, once you find your spot start digging to create your very own natural hot water spa right there in the sand.

Mokena Geyser

Mokena Geyser – Te Aroha

Resting quietly at the base of Mt Te Aroha, and behind the Te Aroha Mineral Spa, is a small fenced area that seems quite unassuming, but wait around for about 45 minutes and this small mound shows its importance as the Mokena Geyser - the world’s only hot soda spring geyser. The Geyser feeds the Te Aroha Mineral Spa and the water here has been drawing visitors for over 100 years due to its rejuvenating qualities. 

Kiwiana, Otorohanga, NZ

Kiwiana Walk

Kiwiana Walk - Otorohanga

The self-proclaimed Kiwiana capital of NZ, Otorohanga, proudly celebrates all things Kiwi; from No 8 wire to the pavlova and the iconic buzzy bee. For an insight into all things Kiwiana follow the Ed Hillary Walkway through the covered gallery which explores the history and quirky side of kiwi culture. Pick up a quiz sheet for children from the i-SITE so they can look for clues in the Ed Hillary walkway.

Walkways – throughout the region

Mangapohue Natural Bridge walk near Waitomo free things to do in Waikato

Mangapohue Natural Bridge

The Waikato regions long rolling landscapes and native bush clad mountains provide for an unlimited number or walking and hiking tracks of all levels. Highlights include:

  • The Kauri Loop walk in the Hakarimata ranges in North Waikato, which gets visitors up close with ancient Kauri trees.
  • Mangapohue Natural Bridge is part of an impressive limestone gorge. The 17m high limestone arch is the remains of an ancient cave system.
  • Plus many more

Lake Rotoroa

Lake Rotoroa – Hamilton

Also known as Hamilton Lake, Lake Rotoroa is a popular spot year round. Plenty of open space for a picnic or to kick a ball around, or let the kid’s burn off some energy on the large playground. The lakeside walk provides picturesque views of the lake’s surrounds and plenty of opportunity to feed the ducks as well as providing a popular fitness area for locals. At Innes Common, on the far side of the lake, there is a new playground with a workout area for adults and parkour area.

Waikato River

Waikato River - throughout the region

The Waikato River cuts its way through the middle of the Waikato region providing a plethora of great activities. Try a spot of fishing, or head out on your boat or kayak to explore the river. If you are in Hamilton City the River Walks are a great way to take in the sights of the Waikato River and explore the other side to the city.

The Timber Trail, Waitomo

The Timber Trail

Cycle Trails – throughout the region

There is a wide variety of cycleways throughout the Waikato region, from short cycles which are perfect for families, to multi day tracks that cross farmland and follow old rail lines, or intense mountain biking at its best. There is something for all levels of riders. 
Find cycle trails here

Kid with light at Waikato Museum, Hamilton

Waikato Museum

Museums & Art Galleries – throughout the region

Take a step back in time and immerse yourself in the colourful stories, strong history, and unique collections of the region. Many of the Museums and Art Galleries throughout the region are free entry allowing you to experience the deeply significant Maori culture that runs through the region, and the inspirational art works that are on offer.

Bridal veil falls, Waikato Walks, Raglan, NZ

Bridal Veil Falls

Waterfalls – throughout the region

From the spectacular 55m high Bridal Veil Falls near Raglan which draws visitors from far and wide, to the lesser known but equally magnificent Wairere Falls near Matamata or the Marokopa Falls just outside Waitomo. Most are easy accessible via a short stroll along a well formed track, while others require a few hours of your time for a hike, but each one is worth it.