Bucket List: Top 15 Best Things to Do in Hamilton, New Zealand

Hamilton Bucket List: Best Places to Visit in Hamilton NZ

Hamilton, a port city, is a great base from which you can explore the North Island of New Zealand. While it may not be as popular as Auckland or as pop cultured as Wellington, Hamilton has its own glamor worth discovering. Situated along the famous Waikato River, it is the largest town in the Waikato region. What I like about Hamilton is that most of its attractions are completely free.

1. Walk along the Riverside Walkway

Sunset along the Waikato River in Hamilton, New Zealand photo via Depositphotos

As you are still trying to acclimatize yourself to the city, there is no better place to start than the Riverside Walkway alongside the Waikato River.

The boardwalk is around 11 kilometers and is one of the many free things to do in the city. It can be reached from several points from the city center.

2. Check out the Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Caves by Winam via Flickr CC
Waitomo Caves by Winam via Flickr CC

Visiting the glowing Waitomo Caves is one of the best things to do in Hamilton. Here you get to see millions of glowworms in their natural home. In these limestone caves, you will find the Arachnocampa Luminosa, a unique glowworm species that can only be found here.

But there are other things to see, including the striking limestone formations and black water abyss tour.

3. Admire the Hamilton Gardens

A view of Italian garden in Hamilton Botanical gardens in New Zealand photo via Depositphotos.
A view of Italian garden in Hamilton Botanical gardens in New Zealand photo via Depositphotos.

Opened in the 1960s, more than 50 hectares of flora and fauna are among North Island’s top attractions. The gardens are believed to expand every day. Unlike most New Zealand gardens or that you have ever seen, the Hamilton Gardens aren’t botanic; instead, they are designed to accommodate a wide range of cultures religions.

There are over 20 attractions within the Hamilton Garden, all of which you can freely tour.

4. Ride a hot air balloon

Hot Air Balloon
Hot Air Balloon

With its beautiful natural landscape, you need different ways to explore New Zealand, and one of them is by riding a hot air balloon. This is usually on many travelers’ bucket lists; it is a dream for many to touch New Zealand skies in a hot air balloon.

The Kiwi Balloon Company is the leader of hot air balloon tours in Hamilton. The tour starts early in the morning, where you can watch as balloons get inflated before ascending to meet the sunrise from the sky.

The tour takes you above the city and notable landmarks such as the Waikato River, Pirongia, Ruapehu, and Te Aroha.

5. Enjoy a picnic at the might Hamilton Lake

Lake Rotoroa in Hamilton NZ by Emily Walker via Wikipedia CC
Lake Rotoroa in Hamilton NZ By Emily Walker from Wellington, New Zealand – Lake Rotoroa, CC BY-SA 2.0, CC

Hamilton Lake is known for many things, but if you traveled with family, the best way to enjoy your time around the lake has a picnic and leisure walks. It is also a nice place for a bike ride and some backyard cricket.

The lake is usually calm, which is perfect for paddleboard and kayaking.

6. Checkout the shire

Hobbit holes in hobbiton photo via Depositphotos
Hobbit holes in hobbiton photo via Depositphotos

In 1998, a team of film directors and producers led by Peter Jackson scouted New Zealand to find Hobbiton’s ideal location. Luckily, he came across Alexander Farm in the region of Waikato.

Located just a few minutes’ drive from the city, the Shire from the Lord of the Rings trilogies is still intact and open to visitors. You can explore every inch of the Hobbiton, including the movie set and the well-maintained paths.

7. Taste tea at the Zealong Tea Estate

Zealong tea estate at Hamilton, New Zealand
Zealong tea estate at Hamilton, New Zealand

New Zealand is known for its award-winning tasty tea, and the best way to experience it is none other than the Zealong Tea Estate. This teat estate is dedicated to producing 100 percent organic tea.

Visitors can tour the tea paths and learn the estate’s history, particularly the camellia tree. The tour ends with a visit to the Tea House, where you can engage in some cultural tea ceremony.

8. Admire a sanctuary on top of Mountain Maungatautari

On a afternoon walk in the Maungatautari Ecological Island by Dino Borelli via Flickr CC
On an afternoon walk in the Maungatautari Ecological Island by Dino Borelli via Flickr CC

Mount Maungatautari is known for having distinct species of animals and plants still living in their original ecosystem. As a result, a 47 kilometers pest-proof fence was set up to protect the sanctuary and some of its endangered species, including insects, frogs, birds, reptiles, and bats, among others.

There are both self-walking and guided tours around the reservation, with different trails and enclosures to discover.

9. Celebrate the Art festival at the Hamilton Garden

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival photo via FB Page
Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival photo via FB Page

This annual festival is celebrated at the Hamilton garden and is dedicated to recognizing the local creative artists and talents. The event is held every late February and involves a wide range of events. The country’s notable figures, such as Ben Hurley, have in the past graced the event.

Visitors can interact with the locals while enjoying live performances and music.

10. Take some pictures at the Cherry Blossom Festival

Waikato Cherry Blossom Festival photo via FB Page
Waikato Cherry Blossom Festival photo via FB Page

If you are in Hamilton during spring, you will get a chance to witness one of the most spectacular cherry blossoms you have ever seen. In Waikato, the cherry blossom ushers in the spring – a time of regeneration and fleeting essence of life due to the flower’s short lifespan.

11. Enjoy a cold drink at Victoria Street

Victoria Street is one of the most popular tourist spots in Hamilton. It is a great place to spend the evening enjoying a cold beer and interacting with the locals and other tourists.

Besides numerous drinking spots, there are also plenty of dining options.

12. Try park hopping

Lake House viewed from the boardwalk in Hamilton by Johnragla via Wikipedia CC
Lake House viewed from the boardwalk in Hamilton By Johnragla – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, CC

The city of Hamilton is choked with stunning parks, including Garden Palace and Hamilton Lake Domain. Meet with other tourists and locals in these parks and watch as the world goes by.

13. Play miniature golf a Center Place Shopping Mall

Center Place Shopping Mall photo via FB Page
Center Place Shopping Mall photo via FB Page

If you miss teeing, head over to the Center Place Shopping Mall to have some simple funs with crazy golf.

14. Admire piece of art at ArtsPost Gallery

ArtsPost Galleries and Shop photo via FB Page
ArtsPost Galleries and Shop photo via FB Page

Hamilton plays an important role in New Zealand’s art scene. The city residents take huge pride in their indigenous art, and at ArtsPost Gallery, you can discover this unique collection of native artworks. Admission is completely free.

15. Go bargain shopping

Hamilton’s city center features hundreds of second-hand shops where you can pick up a few cheap products.

The River Road, Liverpool Street, Ulster Street, and Te Aroha Street are known for housing the largest concentration of op shops in Hamilton.

Hamilton NZ Travel and Tour Packages

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Hamilton hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Want more updates about new package tours and tourist attractions in Hamilton, New Zealand? Follow #TeamOutofTown, on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Bloglovin, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

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