We're famous for Middle-earth movie magic, underground wonders, the iconic Waikato River, and legendary surf beaches, and that's just the start .
The Waikato, and its metropolitan hub of Hamilton, are situated in the central North Island an area renowned for nature-based tourism, rich agricultural land and proud Maori heritage.
Visitors to the Hamilton & Waikato region will enjoy a wealth of world-class attractions. Go underground and experience the subterranean wonders of the Waitomo Caves, with a playground of glowworms, black water rafting, abseiling and cave exploration on offer.
Movie buffs will love our slice of the 'real Middle-earth' at Hobbiton Movie Set, near Matamata, as seen in 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit' trilogies. While on the west coast, the bohemian town of Raglan is famous for. its left-hand surf break and rugged black-sand beaches. Lovers of the great outdoors are spoilt for choice with a range of protected park land and mountain ranges offering fantastic walking, hiking and cycling trails including three of the nation's 'Great Rides' - the Timber Trail, Waikato River Trails and Hauraki Rail Trail.
The mighty Waikato River is the lifeblood of our region and a playground for jetboaters, kayakers, rowers and boaties, particularly on our picturesque hydro lakes such as Lake Karapiro near Cambridge. When you've worked up an appente, there's a whole smorgasbord of gourmet options to choose from includlIlg award-winning eatenes, microbrewettes, artisan producers, farmers markets and fine-dining.
As for nourishment for the soul, a soak in the silky waters of the Te Aroha Mineral Spas, or a stroll through the award-winning Hamilton Gardens, makes for a refreshing change of scene. The Hamilton Gardens are a sparkling jewel in the heart of Hamilton City and tells the story of gardens through time. The Waikato is known for its vibrant arts scene with Hamilton hosting world-class cultural events including Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival and Balloons over Waikato, as well as a number of museums and galleries on show. Home of the Maori King, the Hamilton & Waikato region has been a significant area for Maori for centuries, ever since the great voyaging Tainui waka (canoe) made landfall in Kawhia. Maori place names tell the story of the region, with Waikato meaning 'flowing water' named after the people of the Tainui waka observed the river's strong pull into the sea.
Along with its proud Maori heritage, the region is one of the world's richest agricultural areas and is fast becoming a hub for high performance sport, with world-class cycling and rowing facilities, Olympic champions and sports-mad locals based in the region. That's just a taste of what we're most famous for. This guide will show you how to make the most of your time in our region - we hope you love it as much as we do.