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Best things to do in Hamilton & Waikato Region

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Where in the world: South Pacific  /  New Zealand  /  North Island  /  Waikato Region  /  Hamilton & Waikato Region

Top 15 things to do in Hamilton & Waikato Region

1. Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waitomo Caves

Home to a species of glowworms found exclusively in New Zealand, Waitomo Glowworm Caves serve as one of the country's most popular natural landmarks. A magnet for both local and foreign visitors, this attraction offers guided tours through three underground levels linked by long vertical shafts made of limestone. Start at the visitor center, where you can learn about the history of this cave system. Guided tours depart from behind the center and take participants past huge stalactites and stalagmites. As you enter a giant cavern known as "the cathedral" and your eyes gradually adjust to the dim light, prepare to see thousands of tiny glowworms sparkling all around you.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Tours from $181 › Learn more about Waitomo Glowworm Caves

2. Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton

Take a stroll or catch a performance at Hamilton Gardens, which has dozens of themed gardens and hosts over 2,000 events every year. The many gardens are organized into various departments--paradise, productive, fantasy, cultivar, and landscape--and feature everything from a traditional Victorian flower garden to the unconventional Modernist garden. Events include musical performances, talks on the history of gardens, and cultural festivals. There are also daily tours of the grounds and programming for children interested in learning more about the plants that surround them.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $154 › Learn more about Hamilton Gardens

4. Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Glowworm Caves Guided Day Trip from Auckland

Likely to sell out FROM $213
Join this tour to visit two of New Zealand’s most famous attractions, Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Caves, in one easy day trip from Auckland. Our tour from 1 December 2023 will be the extended Hobbiton Experience (now 2.5 hours) where you can venture beyond the door to a fully themed Hobbit Hole interior. Immerse yourself in the interior with entry hall, bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, dining area, equipped bathroom, parlour and crackling fireplace. Be fascinated as the magical world of Hobbiton comes to life and take photos in front of your favourite places like the Hobbit Holes, the Shire and the Green Dragon Inn. Then journey to the World Famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves and be captivated by the thousands of magical glowworms twinkling in the Grottos, the stalactites and stalagmites as you glide silently through the cave by boat. Marvel at the stunning scenery en route as we journey off the motorways into the real hinterland of New Zealand. All admission fees and cafe lunch included.
Suggested duration: 11h
Tours from $213 › More about this tour at viator.com ›
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5. Caveworld, Waitomo Caves

Explore the region's caves by taking a guided tour of Caveworld, featuring glow worm displays and gothic rock formations. Adventurous travelers can don a wet suit, grab an inner tube, and take a black-water rafting tour, which includes jumping off an underwater waterfall and zooming down a waterslide. Back at the bush hut, cap off the tour with a complimentary hot drink.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Caveworld

6. River Rafting & Tubing, Waitomo Caves

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about River Rafting & Tubing

7. Ruakuri Cave, Waitomo Caves

Embark on an underground adventure at Ruakuri Cave, the only cave in the Southern Hemisphere that has a wheelchair and pushchair access. Listen to the distant roar of subterranean streams and waterfalls as you descend the cleverly designed spiral entrance. Admire the spectacular limestone formations and take pictures of the glowworms. Discovered by local Maori people nearly 500 years ago, the cave served as a sacred burial site before opening to public in 1904.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Tours from $51 › Learn more about Ruakuri Cave

8. Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Small Group Tour from Auckland

Likely to sell out FROM $214
Experience the world-famous Lord of The Rings Hobbiton Movie Set plus the Waitomo Glowworm Caves all in one day. This unforgettable combo tour takes you to the top tourist attractions in the North Island. Highlights: • Hobbiton & Alexander Family Sheep Farm • Waitomo Glowworm Caves • Secret Animal Viewing Stops • Waikato Farming Region While the destinations you will be visiting are truly spectacular, Cheeky Kiwi Travel believe it is our small groups, our guides, the journey and the little details that set our tours well apart. Secret stops, wildlife viewings, specially designed vehicles and many other pleasant surprises ensure our tours are an experience to remember. This tour is less rushed than others, making it the ultimate Auckland day tour, and is led by our passionate tour guides, notorious for bringing your journey to life by sharing their stories and rich background knowledge, and run in modern, comfortable minibuses packed with extras ensuring your comfort and safety.
Suggested duration: 12h
Tours from $214 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

9. Ruakuri Walk, Waitomo Caves

Explore the verdant forest and limestone walls of Ruakuri Walk, a place of strong spiritual and cultural significance to the Maori. Follow the Ruakuri walk, a looping trail that leads you through rocky outcroppings and flourishing forest. The highlight is the vast Ruakuri natural tunnel, into which the Waitomo stream flows--look up at the dangling stalactites hanging from the high ceiling, and down at the stalagmites reaching up from below. At night, see the cave walls lit up by thousands of glowworms, but keep a respectful distance as touching them will kill them. For more in-depth appreciation of the surroundings, opt for a guided tour, which takes you through Aranui and Ruakuri caves. The local ecosystem supports native birds such as kereru, tui, piwakawaka, and tauhou; kareareas (New Zealand falcons) are often seen and heard from the parking lot. While the walk is relatively easy, do bring a flashlight or headlamp to help you navigate steps inside the caves.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Ruakuri Walk

10. Hamilton Zoo, Hamilton

Marvel at a range of animals from around the world at Hamilton Zoo, one of the region's largest parks of its kind. Home to more than 400 individual animals representing over 90 species, the zoo boasts fan-favorite creatures like red pandas, lemurs, and Sumatran tigers. Wander the extensive grounds and its array of themed exhibits, where you can view chimpanzees, reptiles, rainforest residents, and local wetland creatures in their recreated natural habitats. Don't miss seeing the rare kunekune, a friendly pig species native to the country. Check out the website for information regarding keeper talks, special events, and group bookings.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Hamilton Zoo

12. Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Caves Full Day Tour departing Auckland

FROM $222
A hidden gem near the township of Matamata, the Hobbiton Movie Set is a world-famous film location for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. See the Hobbit Holes and learn how this private farm became Middle Earth. After a tasty lunch at The Green Dragon Inn, visit the enchanting Waitomo Glowworm Caves for a guided 45-minute tour through this underground wonder, seeing stalactites, stalagmites and sparkling glowworms. Construction on the Hobbiton Movie Set: A major and very exciting development project is underway at Hobbiton Movie Set until December 2023
Suggested duration: 12h
Tours from $222 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

13. Waitomo Clay Birds, Waitomo Caves

Try something new and sharpen your aim at Waitomo Clay Birds, a target shooting range. Whether you visit as an individual or in a group, this recreational activity provides an entertaining experience in a safe environment. You'll take lessons with a patient, experienced instructor, who guides you through each step. Before long, you'll take an easy walk around the trail, aim toward the sky, and try to hit the clay pigeons. If you get hungry, check out the barbecue at the nearby restaurant.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Waitomo Clay Birds

14. Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk, Waitomo Caves

Stand in awe at the geological history of Waikato at Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk, a 17 m (56 ft) limestone arch that crosses Mangapohue Stream. The last remnant of an ancient cave system, the bridge makes up part of a mighty gorge and is decorated with impressive stalactite rock formations. Easily accessible even for those with infants in strollers, a well-maintained trail leads you to the mouth of the bridge and continues along the gorge and out into pristine farmland.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
Learn more about Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk

15. Hobbiton, Rotorua and Waitomo Caves Day Trip in Luxury Minibus from Auckland

Likely to sell out FROM $320
This tour will only be available as a round trip from Auckland until 31 October 2023 - Hobbiton are extending their tour duration. There will no longer be enough time to visit all three attractions to return to Auckland on the same day You will visit three amazing destinations in one day.  Hobbiton which is perfect for anyone looking to add a little fantasy to their holiday. This tour will bring you to the movie set in Hobbiton. After that you will travel to Rotorua and spend approximately 1.5 hours while enjoying a cafe lunch and visiting the Thermal Valley at Te Puia. Please note that this is a very short time in Rotorua and if you want more time please book an overnight tour or Waitomo or Hobbiton on a separate day. After leaving Rotorua, we travel to Waitomo to visit the Waitomo Caves. The tours at both Hobbiton and the Waitomo Caves are of a set duration and are not shortened. This tour is flexible with options to start or finish in Auckland or Rotorua.
Suggested duration: 13h
Tours from $320 › More about this tour at viator.com ›