Hamilton & Waikato
Surfing, glow worms and hobbits
With lush and fertile rural pastures, Hamilton & Waikato is the farming heartland of the North Island. The Kaimai mountain range to the east, the majestic Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest, at its heart and the Tasman Sea to the west all make for a diverse landscape that’s filled with adventure.
Located just over one and a half hours south of Auckland, Hamilton is the main centre and an excellent base from which to explore the region. Heading south from Auckland on the Thermal Explorer Highway you may be tempted to head straight through to Ruapehu and the hugely popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing. But you’d be missing out on a few unique experiences you won’t find anywhere else in New Zealand.
Top things to do in Hamilton & Waikato
Looking for ideas to help you plan the ultimate New Zealand outdoor adventure? Here are some of the top things for active travellers to see and do in the Hamilton & Waikato region.
Visit Raglan Beach
Raglan is without a doubt surf central having three of New Zealand’s 19 surf breaks of national significance. This west coast black sand beach is world renowned and Manu Bay has one of the longest left-hand breaks in the world. Whale Bay and Indicators are the more challenging breaks while Ngarunui (Ocean) Beach is better suited to beginners and a great place to learn to surf. It’s not all about surfing though. Raglan has a tranquil harbour perfect for kayaking and stand up paddleboarding and there’s a local ‘secret’ in store for those willing to explore.
See glow worms at Waitomo Caves
Millions of years old and filled with dramatic limestone formations, Waitomo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in New Zealand. While there are over 300 known caves in the area, a number of them are commercially operated and offer everything from guided walks to gentle boat rides through caverns filled with a blue ‘starlight’ canopy of glow worms. For the more adventurous there’s black water rafting on inflated rubber tubes, abseiling and zip-lining.
Visit the Hobbiton Movie Set
Ok, so a visit to a movie set doesn’t exactly sound like an outdoor adventure. But of you’re a fan of the Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movies, you really should go and visit the Hobbiton Movie Set. Located on picturesque private farmland near Matamata, the set is exactly as it appeared in the movies. There are daily guided tours through Bag End and you can also visit The Green Dragon and try some exclusively brewed Southfarthing beer.
If you’re in the area and looking for something a little more physical to do, consider walking to the top of Wairere Falls.