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Best things to do in Hamilton

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

Top 15 things to do in Hamilton

1. Hamilton Gardens

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
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Tours including Hamilton Gardens:

2. Waikato Museum

Find cultural inspiration and learn the history of the land at Waikato Museum, situated in the center of Hamilton's cultural precinct. Housed in an impressive building designed in the late 1980s by award-winning architect Ivan Mercep, the museum focuses on visual art, social history, and scientific heritage. Touring exhibits and permanent collections weave stories of the region, while interactive exhibits introduce children to the importance of art and design when mapping the area's history and development.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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3. Hamilton Zoo

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
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4. Hamilton Cycleways

Suggested duration: 4 hours
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5. Rainbow Springs Nature Park, Rotorua

Animal and bird lovers should flock to Rainbow Springs Nature Park, a 9 hectare (22 acre) nature park and wildlife conservation center featuring many rare endemic species, a water ride, and a beautiful natural setting of native plants and streams. The fuzzy little flightless birds known as kiwis are the park's most famous inhabitants, and visitors can get up close and personal with the creatures during a kiwi encounter--a tour of the nursery and hatchery. Cool off with a ride on the big splash, spend time with birds in one of the park's free flight aviaries, or catch an exciting bird show. Your ticket allows you unlimited admission for the day, letting you return at night to observe nocturnal creatures.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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Tours including Rainbow Springs Nature Park:

6. Te Puia, Rotorua

Take a guided tour of the thermal geysers at Te Puia, Rotorua's undisputed star attraction. A short ride south of the city center, this thermal reserve features over 500 hot springs. The most famous of the many geysers is the aptly named Big Splash, erupting at least two dozen times a day and spouting water as high as 30 m (98 ft) into the air. Other highlights include regular cultural performances and popular hangi feasts, allowing visitors to experience the local cuisine. Don't miss the carving and weaving schools, where you can learn about the traditional methods of Maori artisans.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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Tours including Te Puia:

7. Hobbiton Movie Set, Hinuera

Revisit Middle Earth at Hobbiton Movie Set, used extensively in both "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" film series. As your guide takes you around the Shire, you'll discover just how filmmaker Peter Jackson made his movie magic here. The journey across the 4.8 hectare (12 acre) set includes stops at Hobbit holes, the Mill, and the Dragon Inn, where you'll be able to enjoy a special beverage. Located in a scenic setting with the picturesque Kaimai Range in the distance, this attraction isn't just for die-hard Tolkien or movie fans. You can also arrange for a farmstay package, or organize a daytime, nighttime, or wedding function on site. Book your guided tour in advance, and explore the website for details about farmstays, functions, and events.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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Tours including Hobbiton Movie Set:

8. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua

Discover the surreal volcanic landscape of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, a natural geothermal area stretching over 18 sq km (7 sq mi). Choose one of three self-guided trails, each of which boasts numerous colorful lakes, rock formations, and mud pools. Enjoy the vivid hues of the geothermal pools, and take stunning shots of the eerie, sulphuric hot springs. The visitor center provides amenities, including a cafe and gift shop.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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Tours including Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland:

9. Rally Drive NZ

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Classics Museum

Go back in time at Classics Museum, dedicated to the cool, slick designs of yesteryear. The museum specializes in classic cars, with everything from the J40 Austin pedal car to the 1974 Fiat 124 Sports Spider. However, the real emphasis lies with retro aesthetics, encompassing automobiles and beyond. Traditional toys and vintage pinball machines complete the look of the museum's exhibit space, while the 1950s-themed diner serves up all things American.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Hamilton Lake Domain

Plan a family outing at Hamilton Lake Domain, a well-maintained lake park often used by locals for boating and yachting. A perimeter walking track encircles the lake, and playgrounds feature large slides and interactive water features for children. Onsite amenities include a cafe, public toilets, wheelchair-friendly paths, and large lawns for playing games.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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13. Taitua Arboretum

Pack a picnic and relax in the tranquility of Taitua Arboretum, which houses lush plant life and mature trees. Follow the paths through this woodland garden and search out lakes where you can feed the ducks. Animal lovers will enjoy identifying the birds, and be ready to be greeted by free-roaming chickens in the park, too. Wear comfortable walking shoes for the steeper pathways.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Taitua Arboretum

14. Gourmet in the Gardens

Hamilton Gardens is a public garden in the south of Hamilton owned and managed by Hamilton City Council in New Zealand. They are the Waikato Region's most popular visitor attraction, attracting more than 1 million people and holding over 2,000 events each year. The gardens present the theme of 'the story of gardens' and are divided into the Paradise, Productive, Fantasy, Cultivar and Landscape garden collections.

Hamilton Gardens is located between the bank of the Waikato River and State Highway 1. Entry and parking to the gardens is free. The enclosed themed gardens are open during daylight hours. In the center of Hamilton Gardens there is a convention center called the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion, a volunteer operated Information Center and the Hamilton Gardens Cafe.

The first development of gardens began in the early 1960s at what was then the city's waste disposal site. The first substantial development, the Rogers Rose Garden, was opened in 1971 in an attempt to block highway development over the site. Since 1982 many newly developed areas have been opened to the public. Additional features of the gardens include a lake walkway and a waterfall outlook.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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15. Spellbound, Te Kuiti

Suggested duration: 4 hours
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