Top 10 Family-friendly Winter Activities in the Waikato

Make the most of the winter in the Waikato with so much to see and do for the whole family from destination playgrounds and stunning gardens to underground wonders, interactive exhibitions and Middle-earth movie magic. Check out the top 10 family-friendly winter 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 Winter months. From short walks on crisp bluebird days such as Marokopa Falls and Pirongia Forest Park to more challenging hikes like Mt Te Aroha there are walk on offer to suit families of all ages. Search the many walks on offer here.

Troll Cave Waitomo Adventures

Troll Cave, Waitomo

2. Underground Wonders:

The awe-inspiring Waitomo Caves are a fun ‘indoor’ option in the cooler weather during the winter months. There are plenty of options on offer for the whole family, 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!

Kids with giraffes at Hamilton Zoo, Hamilton, Waikato

Hamilton Zoo

3. Animal Encounters:

The Waikato region offers many opportunities to get up close and personal with a variety 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.

Waikato Museum

4. Waikato Museum:

With top art, history and 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.

Current exhibition: Dinosaur rEvolution: Secrets of Survival, is a family-friendly, hands-on educational experience that brings visitors face-to-face with fascinating skeletons and animatronic dinosaurs. The kids will love the opportunity to run their hands over fossil casts including a nest of dinosaur eggs and unearth fossils from dig pits – on display until September 2020.

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 next door. 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

Hobbiton Movie Set

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. Hamilton Gardens:

Download an activity sheet for the kids and spend time exploring the award-winning Hamilton Gardens 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.

8. Events:

Hamilton City and the wider Waikato region is set for a season full of family-friendly events. Catch The Cat in the Hat in Hamilton, cheer on the Waikato Magic or Chiefs at their home games or head to The Meteor Theatre to catch Destination: Earth, a hilarious, fun-filled and educational adventure all about planet Earth and life on our ‘pale blue dot’! Search events here. 

Te Awa, The Great NZ River Ride Karapiro Section, Karapiro, NZ

Te Awa

9. Cycle Trails:

Explore the Waikato by bike on one of the region's many trails including Waikato River Trails, Te Awa 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.

SkyCity Hamilton

9. Bowl & Social:

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.