1. Walking Trails:
The Waikato’s myriad of walking trails are a great way to explore the region during the Spring 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. Search the many walks on offer here.
2. Underground Wonders:
The awe-inspiring Waitomo Caves are a fun option for families of all sizes and ages. - from gentle boat rides under galaxies of twinkling glowworms, walking tours of awe-inspiring limestone formations, and a blood-pumping range of adventure activities. Kids can even do their bit for ‘cave troll’ conservation!
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, or take an evening tour to experience the NZ native bush at night.
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.
Waikato Museum also offers an October School Holiday Programme, packed with great things to do, learn and experience for ages 7-13 years.
5. Destination Playgrounds:
The Waikato is home to many destination playgrounds, including Hare Puke Park in Hamilton, which was named 'playground of the year' in 2019. Kids will love the playground at Hamilton Lake, and adults will enjoy a coffee at The Verandah situated next to it. The new playground at Innes Common features a basketball court and parkour area while playgrounds in other Waikato towns such as Te Awamutu and Cambridge come highly recommended too. View more playgrounds here.
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.
7. Outdoor Activities:
Spend time exploring the award-winning Hamilton Gardens - download an activity sheet for the kids and discover different civilisations and historically important garden styles from the farthest reaches of the world. Be sure to check out the new Surrealist Garden with features 5 x the normal size including a giant door, wheelbarrow and tap.
The Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum between Hamilton and Morrinsville provides a diverse range of family activities for all ages to enjoy. Discover more than 100 sculptures and installations within 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
9. Cycle Trails:
Explore the Waikato by bike on one of the region's many trails including Waikato River Trails, 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 family’s cycling adventure.
10. Indoor Family-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 is 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.
Take on one of Escapist's immersive themed escape rooms and see if you can escape in time. Then refuel after with a coffee and cake in the cafe whilst playing some board games.