Things to do in Hamilton

Situated in the heart of the Waikato region, Hamilton is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing cities. Hamilton is a great place to spend time in - it is rich in culture with a vibrant centre, the majestic Waikato River and parks and gardens to explore. There is fantastic shopping, a thriving arts scene, award-winning restaurants and a strong café culture.

Waikato River

The mighty Waikato River winds its way directly through Hamilton, providing great activity options for a relaxing afternoon. Kayak the river on a guided tour or relax with a quiet stroll from the CBD along the river walks to the Hamilton Gardens at the southern end of the city.

Hamilton Gardens

The award-winning Hamilton Gardens (presented with the prestigious International Garden of the Year Award in 2014) is undoubtedly one of the region’s most popular destinations. This visually stunning 58-hectare canvas is webbed by paths that journey through a gallery of gardens including grand Italy, modern America, tranquil China, contemplative Japan and the Maori garden, Te Parapara.

For more information visit Hamilton Gardens.

Restaurants & cafes

Hamilton's vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene is continuing to build a strong reputation with award-winning cafes and restaurants serving all styles and origins of cuisine. The central city’s southern end buzzes with wine bars, pubs, clubs and a casino, DJs and live bands. Fine dining establishments such as Palate and Chim Choo Ree have featured as finalists in Cuisine magazine awards for Restaurant of the Year.

For more information visit Hamilton Central or Kiwi Hospitality.

Waikato Museum & the arts scene

Also at the south end of Hamilton's CBD, Waikato Museum holds an insight into the strong Maori history of the city and surrounding Waikato region - and a insightful look at all things Hamilton and Waikato. It has regular national and international exhibitions and permanent displays of rugby heritage, the Waikato River and the entrepreneurial development of Hamilton city.

Hamilton also has a strong creative sector with unique art galleries throughout the city and wider area - from contemporary to spectacular, the indoor and outdoor galleries offer something for all art buffs.

For more information visit Waikato Museum.

Hot air balloon rides

One of the most awe-inspiring ways to experience the Hamilton & Waikato is by air. Early morning hot air balloon rides will give you a perspective of the region unlike any other. We recommend the early start – it's just magical as you take off and glide over the city as the morning sun rises.

For more information see Visit Hamilton.


Hamilton is a shopper’s dream. The central city boasts several malls as well as boutique designer clothing stores and funky giftware shops. Quaint side streets and alleyways such as Casabella Lane and Barton St are known for their quirky retail tenants and good cafes, while Ward Street and Victoria Street boast some top New Zealand designer labels. Specialist purveyors of homewares, clothing, food and gifts are also dotted throughout the wider city, while the suburbs also house retail delights including the recently upgraded and expanded Westfield Chartwell and The Base/Te Awa.

For more information see Visit Hamilton.

Family fun

Family fun is abundant in the city with safe, affordable and child-friendly activities and attractions providing endless entertainment. Families can explore and enjoy the many accessible activities including Hamilton Zoo (with 600 native and exotic animals), SkyCity’s ten pin bowling and laser tag, Waterworld, kayaking on the Waikato River and the interactive family-focused exhibits at Waikato Museum.

For more information see Visit Hamilton.