NZ's largest landlocked city has plenty to offer! It boasts a buzzing main drag of cafes, bars and eateries which is particularly vibrant on the weekends, and SKYCITY Casino provides live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. It's also a great base with which to explore the lush Hamilton-Waikato region.
The mighty Waikato River runs right through the city, blessing Hamilton with beautiful riverside walks and rich gardens. The Hamilton Gardens is stunning, with picturesque outdoor sculptures and landscapes. It is definitely the best location to take in a lovely stroll, and the Waikato Museum along the river's edge is also worth a visit.
Going farther afield, there are unlimited options for walking and hiking through the bush – be it limestone gorges or forests of mighty Kauri trees.
Another way to get acquainted with the region's picturesque scenery is on two wheels. Meander your way through rolling farmland and winding rivers with the hundreds of kilometres of trail on offer. Rides are graded by length and difficulty, and range from urban adventures to off-road challenges. Check out family-friendly Te Awa – The Great New Zealand River Ride, or ramp it up with the Hamilton Mountain Bike Track.
A worthwhile day trip from Hamilton is a visit to the nearby Waitomo Caves. If you're an adrenalin junkie your options include blackwater rafting and abseiling, all amongst the wondrous setting of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Perhaps the biggest draw-card however, is floating through an underground cave on an inner-tube ride at a relaxing pace, marvelling at the magical lights of thousands of glow-worms.
For the movie buffs, Matamata aka Hobbiton is just an hour's drive away. The movie set that served as The Shire remains there permanently, for avid fans of the Peter Jackson trilogy to get up close and personal to. The Hamilton-Waikato region is also home to numerous other locations that featured in the films, including Weathertop Hollow and Trollshaw Forest near Port Waikato and PioPio respectively.
Hamilton is home to Libby and Elliott from The Great Food Race