Hamilton awaits: its gardens, zoo, ecotourism, and more!

The stunning coast of the Coromandel and Mount Maunganui, Rotorua’s hot springs, the caves of Waitomo and Raglan’s perfect surf are all within easy reach of Hamilton. The inland city also has its own charming attractions, including gardens and museums.

Even though it’s the fourth largest city in New Zealand, Hamilton has less than 150,000 residents. It’s a laid-back place with a vibrant café culture, along with a thriving art and music scene. The North Island city also has a proud sporting history centered around the rugby union team The Chiefs.

Hamilton is situated along the the Waikato River, the longest river in the country. You can enjoy its jade green waters by boarding the Waikato River Explorer. This cruise will take you through Hamilton and into the countryside.

Visit the Waikato Museum, with detailed displays of the area’s settler past, both Māori and European. Admire the comprehensive collection of visual art and explore science.

The free Hamilton Gardens showcase a superb collection of New Zealand’s native plants and international garden designs.

Hamilton is close to the deep, majestic Waitomo Caves, which are lit up by thousands of glowworms. Abseil into the caves and tube the rest during an exhilarating “black-water rafting” tour. For a calmer day out, head to leafy Cambridge, with its elegant boutique stores and cafés, or take the kids to the Kiwi House and Native Bird Park in Otorohanga or Hamilton Zoo.

After seeing all the nearby highlights, explore more of the North Island’s stunning natural beauty by visiting beaches, white-capped mountains and forests with hot springs.

Hamilton’s compact size makes it easy to navigate on foot. There’s also a free shuttle bus that runs a circuit of the city every 10 minutes. The climate is mild year-round, though winter nights can get very cold

Known for

Family-Friendly, Gardens and Zoo

Explore map

Where to stay in Hamilton

Hamilton East
Hamilton Gardens which includes heritage elements and wildflowers

Hamilton East

4/5(1 review)

While visiting Hamilton East, you might make a stop by sights like Hamilton Gardens and Memorial Park.

Claudelands
I would not usually consider a garden a must-see experience, but I am really glad a local told us to visit Hamilton Gardens.  The experience of wandering through a maze of hedges that open into perfectly cultivated gardens plucked complete from other countries and other eras was quite possibly the closest I will ever come to feeling like Alice in Wonderland come to life.  You never know what magical sight waits around the next bend in the path.
trover photo by Alana

Claudelands

If you're spending some time in Claudelands, SkyCity Hamilton and Lake Rotoroa are top sights worth seeing.

Leamington
Cambridge featuring land animals and farmland

Leamington

Though Leamington might not have many top sights, you can venture to the surrounding area to see attractions like Te Koutu Lake and Cambridge Raceway.

Top Hotels in Hamilton

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Ventura Inn & Suites Hamilton
Ventura Inn & Suites Hamilton
3.5 out of 5
23 Clarence Street, Hamilton
$82
per night
Oct 20 - Oct 21

Located in the heart of Hamilton, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Waikato Museum of Art and History and SkyCity Hamilton. Hamilton Gardens is 1.9 mi (3.1 ...

4.3/5Excellent! (1,133 reviews)

"Great stay. It’s very well located. Friendly staff and the whole place is comfortable and clean."…"

Reviewed on Oct 17, 2019

Ventura Inn & Suites Hamilton
VR Hamilton
VR Hamilton
4 out of 5
237 Victoria Street, Hamilton
$49
per night
Oct 20 - Oct 21

Located in the heart of Hamilton, this hotel is steps from Hamilton Central Business District and SkyCity Hamilton. Hamilton Gardens is 2 mi (3.2 km) away.

3.6/5Good! (1,732 reviews)

"What I like about this property is that it is walking distance to all restaurants and walkways and cafes and mall."…"

Reviewed on Oct 14, 2019

VR Hamilton
Novotel Tainui Hamilton
Novotel Tainui Hamilton
4.5 out of 5
7 Alma Street, Hamilton
$104
per night
Nov 10 - Nov 11

This family-friendly Hamilton hotel is steps from Hamilton Central Business District and SkyCity Hamilton. Hamilton Gardens is 2.2 mi (3.5 km) away.

4.4/5Wonderful! (1,137 reviews)

"Love the design of the rooms. So smartly designed. All the little things are thought of."…"

Reviewed on Oct 11, 2019

Novotel Tainui Hamilton

Popular things to do in Hamilton

Hobbiton Movie Set
Image for Hobbiton Movie Set

Hobbiton Movie Set

5/5(52 reviews)

Enjoy a trip to Hobbiton Movie Set, a well-known attraction in Matamata. Discover the area's hot springs and coffeehouses.

Hamilton Gardens
Image for Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton Gardens

5/5(23 reviews)

From the peaceful Japanese Zen Garden to the explosion of color in the Indian Char Bagh Garden, anyone who loves nature will enjoy this man-made paradise.

Top activities in Hamilton

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Image for Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

$53

Step into the world of Middle-earth, the Shire, and Hobbiton as you head to the movie set where acclaimed director Peter Jackson brought J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved books to life. Find out how this once-sleepy sheep farm was turned into a movie set and take an up-close look at real sets and props.

Full-Day Hobbiton Shire Movie Set Tour from Auckland
Image for Full-Day Hobbiton Shire Movie Set Tour from Auckland

Full-Day Hobbiton Shire Movie Set Tour from Auckland

$195

A fantastical world of wonder awaits at the filming site of HobbitonTM Shire. Nestled within the verdant farmland south of Auckland, this authentic recreation of Bilbo Baggins' Middle Earth village immerses you in all the magic and adventure of the Lord of the Rings.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour departing Matamata i-SITE
Image for Hobbiton Movie Set Tour departing Matamata i-SITE

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour departing Matamata i-SITE

$53

Step into the world of Middle-earth, the Shire, and Hobbiton as you head to the movie set where acclaimed director Peter Jackson brought J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved books to life. Find out how this once-sleepy sheep farm was turned into a movie set and take an up-close look at real sets and props.

Full-Day Waitomo Caves & Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Image for Full-Day Waitomo Caves & Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Full-Day Waitomo Caves & Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

$238

Embark on an exciting day trip from Auckland to discover the glowworm caves at Waitomo and the world-famous Hobbiton Movie Set. Escape the city and journey south through lush green farmland en route to Matamata, a small rural town where you'll find the Hobbiton Movie Set.

Full-Day Waitomo Caves & Rotorua Highlights Tour with Lunch
Image for Full-Day Waitomo Caves & Rotorua Highlights Tour with Lunch

Full-Day Waitomo Caves & Rotorua Highlights Tour with Lunch

$231

Discover some of the best places to visit outside Auckland; enjoy a visit to the famous glowworm caves at Waitomo and see the best Rotorua attractions on offer on this full-day sightseeing tour.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour departing Rotorua
Image for Hobbiton Movie Set Tour departing Rotorua

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour departing Rotorua

$75

Step into the world of Middle-earth, the Shire, and Hobbiton as you head to the movie set where acclaimed director Peter Jackson brought J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved books to life. Find out how this once-sleepy sheep farm was turned into a movie set and take an up-close look at real sets and props.

Reviews of Hamilton

4.2

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
12
5 - Excellent 38.70967741935484%
4 - Good
13
4 - Good 41.935483870967744%
3 - Okay
5
3 - Okay 16.129032258064516%
2 - Disappointing
1
2 - Disappointing 3.225806451612903%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Feb 17, 2019

It has everything you need

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Jan 23, 2019

Hayes Common and Banh Mi Caphe and Gothenburg - all great restsurants

3/5 - Okay

Verified traveler

Jan 10, 2019

The only place in New Zealand that I did not like much. The Hamilton Gardens needs maintenance.

5/5 - Excellent

Ratneary

Dec 16, 2018

It is a really nice city. Just 45 min drive to Hobbiton site. And 1 hour to 1:30 min to water falls... love the place..

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