Welcome to Waikato and Hamilton
About one hour’s drive from Auckland is the city of Hamilton, New Zealand’s largest inland city with a population of around 159,000. Named Hamilton after Captain John Hamilton, the city was originally the site of a handful of Maori villages. Located in the middle of the Waikato, Hamilton is built around the longest river in New Zealand, the Waikato, which connects Hamilton to the ocean. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in this city, with its large student population, and there is plenty to see and do, including the beautiful themed gardens, the Museum and Theatre and the Zoo which is set in landscaped gardens and is home to over 400 exotic birds and animals.
The Waikato (the Maori word for flowing water) is famous for its glowworm caves in Waitomo. Millions of years old and a base for black-water rafting and abseiling, the caves offer the opportunity for the less adventurous as well, with tours through the caves to wonder at the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. The Waikato also has stunning waterfalls, landscapes and beaches to explore. Visit the unique Kiwi Culture Show or the Kiwi House and Bird Park at Otorohanga. Whether it’s the countryside, beach or wildlife you are interested in, the Waikato has something to offer everybody.
On the west coast, 45 minutes away from Hamilton is Raglan, a small harbour town with plenty of outdoor entertainment. Although famous for its great surfing beaches, Raglan is also well known for its black sand beaches and has the best and safest swimming for children in the area. Take a walk to spectacular Bridal Veil Falls or enjoy fishing, kayaking or mountainbiking in one of the most unspoilt places in NZ.