Experiences

Top 10 Autumn Activities in the Waikato

Make the most of the autumn in the Waikato with so much to see and do from destination playgrounds and stunning gardens to underground wonders, interactive exhibitions and Middle-earth movie magic. Check out the top 10 autumn activities to do in the Waikato below:

1. Walking Trails

The Waikato’s myriad of walking trails are a great way to explore the region during the autumn months. From short walks such as Marokopa Falls and Pirongia Forest Park on crisp bluebird days to more challenging hikes like Mt Te Aroha there are tracks and trails on offer to suit families of all ages. Enjoy the changing colours of the trees by taking a long walk on a warm autumn day in Taitua Arboretum. Search the many walks on offer here.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

2. Underground Wonders

The awe-inspiring Waitomo Caves are a great ‘all-weather’ option during the rainy autumn months. There are plenty of options on offer, from gentle boat rides under galaxies of twinkling glowworms, walking tours of awe-inspiring limestone formations, and a blood-pumping range of adventure activities. 

3. Animal Encounters

The Waikato region offers many opportunities to get up close and personal with a variety of wildlife. Hamilton Zoo is home to over 600 native and exotic animals including, rhino, tigers, lemurs and more, while the Otorohanga Kiwi House offers year-round viewing of the native Kiwi in its nocturnal enclosure. Visit Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari in the morning to hear the birdsong and you may be able to spot some of the beautiful native birdlife that are abundant on the mountain. Experience the ultimate alpaca experience with one of Cornerstone Alpaca Farm Tours, where you can meet and feed beautiful alpacas.

Waikato Museum Exscite Exhibition

4. Waikato Museum

With top resident and touring interactive kids exhibitions the Waikato Museum is a perfect indoor activity for the entire family. Highlights include Exscite, an interactive gallery jam-packed with science-based activities for young people to actively learn while having fun.

Don't miss the incredible Our Moon: Then, Now & Beyond installation 19 March - 12 June 2022. This world experience invites you to enter the orbit of the moon in a hands-on exhibition. With NASA imagery of the lunar surface, moonlight and surround sound, the installation is the work of United Kingdom artist Luke Jerram, known globally for his inspirational art projects.

5. Foodie Delights

Nothing is better than a little indulgence and the Waikato region boasts a variety of foodie options to tick this box. Enjoy a decadent High Tea at Zealong Tea Estate just north of Hamilton or visit award-winning Waikato restaurants or one of the region's many farmers markets for fresh autumnal produce. Those with a sweet tooth will love Duck Island Ice Cream in Hamilton East offering flavours ranging from salted caramel with cacao crumb to peppermint slice. Or stop for a coffee at one of many great coffee spots in the Waikato

Hobbiton Movie Set Tours, Matamata, New Zealand

6. Middle-earth Movie Magic

Take the whole family to Hobbiton Movie Set and imagine Hobbits going about their everyday business. Gain a first-hand insight into filming and the way things looked when shooting was in full swing and get up close with over 17 hobbit holes from the film including Bag End, Samwise Gamgee's house and more. Knowledgeable tour guides provide fascinating insight into how the movie set was created and what went on during filming of both trilogies.

Discover the other filming locations in the Waikato region such as Weathertop Hollow from The Lord of The Rings trilogy, filmed near Port Waikato and underground sounds recorded in the famous Waitomo Caves. More information here

7. Outdoor Activities

Spend time exploring the rather mysterious world of the award-winning Hamilton Gardens. Be sure to check out the new Surrealist Garden with features 5 x the normal size including a giant door, wheelbarrow and tap.

Discover more than 100 sculptures and installations within The Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum, one of New Zealand’s largest outdoor galleries along the park’s 2km art-in-nature trail. The sculptures are set amongst a landscape of ponds, cliffs, rocks, flowering shrubs and trees created from a former quarry.

8. Waikato Waterfalls

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. Explore Waikato Waterfalls here

9. Cycle Trails

Explore the Waikato by bike on one of the region's many trails including Te Awa – the Great NZ River Ride, Timber Trail, Hauraki Rail Trail and many more including local mountain bike parks. Search all the cycle tracks and trails on offer in the Waikato here to see which ones would be perfect for your cycling adventure.

SKYCITY Hamilton Bowl & Social

10. Indoor fun

Hamilton's only tenpin bowling alley with world-class bowling technology, TimeZone games and a brand new kitchen & bar serving up in-lane dining! With a world-class bowling alley & X-Golf simulator at SkyCity Hamilton there are activities to keep the whole family entertained for hours.

A range of dining and entertainment outlets to refuel afterwards are also on offer including EATBurger – voted as serving the Waikato's best burger and The Local Taphouse.