1. Indoor Activities:
Stay warm and dry with a variety of indoor activity options including ten-pin bowling at SkyCity Hamilton and interactive exhibitions at Waikato Museum, or watch the latest movies at Hoyts at Te Awa, The Base, burn off some energy on an indoor rock climbing wall or trampoline park, or visit the Classics Museum with over 100 classic cars on display along with a variety of petrol memorabilia.
2. Outdoor Adventure:
Enjoy an evening glowworm tour with Lake District Adventures or race your friends on the go-karts at Hampton Downs. Or if you are feeling brave get the adrenaline pumping with a tandem skydive with GoSkydive NZ and experience the best views of the Waikato. Head over to coastal town of Raglan and have a go at surfing with Raglan Surfing School or rock climbing and caving with Raglan Rock. There are plenty of great walking trails to explore including those found on Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, Marokopa Falls (pictured) and Mt Te Aroha to name but a few. Search the many walks on offer here or download our new guide to Waikato Walking Trails. Note: Winter weather can often affect tracks and trails - we recommend checking the DOC website for any alerts before leaving home.
3. Underground Wonders:
Rain or shine the Waitomo Caves is a great activity option. Take an easy stroll through the underground passageways or ride a boat under a galaxy of twinkling glowworms in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, or take a private cave tour and marvel glowworms with Caveworld. For a little more adventure abseil down into The Lost World, zipline through the darkness or join a black water rafting tour.
4. Animal Encounters:
Another great winter activity, the Waikato region offers many opportunities to get up close and personal with a variety of native an exotic wildlife. Get to know Hamilton Zoo’s animals during free daily “Meet the Keeper” talks or view native Kiwi in its nocturnal enclosure at the Otorohanga Kiwi House. Experience the ultimate alpaca experience with one of Cornerstone Alpaca Farm Tours, where you can meet and feed beautiful alpacas. Visit Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari in the morning and you may be able to spot one of the many native birdlife that are abundant on the mountain.
5. Middle-earth Movie Magic:
With fewer crowds than the summer months, winter is the perfect time to explore the region's iconic Middle-earth attractions. Take a tour of Hobbiton Movie Set past hobbit holes, The Green Dragon Inn, mill and other structures created for the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, or for something a little different head south to Piopio and visit Hairy Feet Waitomo, where scenes from Trollshaw Forest in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey were filmed.
6. Foodie Delights:
Nothing is better in winter than a little indulgence and the Waikato regions boasts a great variety of foodie options. Enjoy a decadent High Tea at Zealong Tea Estate just north of Hamilton or catch up with friends over the famous Henley High Tea, enjoy the variety of options on offer in the SKYCITY Dining precinct, visit award-winning Waikato restaurants or visit one of the regions many farmers markets for fresh local produce. Local wineries are also on offer, with many running mid-winter Christmas functions and other dining options. Take a tour of the Good George brewery and sample their beer range. Browse amazing Waikato foodie spots here.
7. Natural Spas:
The Waikato region's natural spa options are somewhat of a hidden gem. The town of Te Aroha has been welcoming visitors to the mineral spas for over 100 years, while Kawhia on the west coast boasts a hot water beach where you can dig your own natural spa in the sand, with stunning views to match.
From theatre and art exhibitions to concerts and sporting events, the Waikato region's events calendar doesn’t slow down during winter. This year's highlights includes Fieldays, the biggest agricultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, the Matariki Dish Challenge and Hobbiton™ Movie Set's Mid-Winter Feast. The Rugby and Netball season will also keep loyal fans entertained as they support the Chiefs Rugby and Magic Netball teams. Search events here.
9. Cycle Trails:
Grab a bike and ride one of the great cycle trails on offer in the Waikato region including the 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 or download our new guide to Waikato Cycle Trails.
10. Inner-City Fun:
Hamilton City offers a range of great winter activities also. Take a relaxing stroll through the stunning Hamilton Gardens which looks beautiful year-round. Take a stroll along the banks of the Waikato River or on a clear morning get sky high with a hot air balloon ride.