Waikato

New Zealand
Shakespeare Lookout showing a sandy beach and a bay or harbour

Visit a famous filming location, enjoy shopping in a metropolitan hub and explore caves and other striking natural areas in this beautiful region.

Waikato is a picturesque region featuring some of New Zealand’s most popular attractions, including a filming location of the famous Lord of the Rings series. Stay in a small village for caving and heritage buildings or enjoy many excellent outdoor activities, such as kayaking, swimming, mountain biking and hiking.

Take a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set in the rural Waikato town of Matamata. The town’s rolling hills and lush green pastures were chosen for the Shire and Hobbiton filming locations from the Lord of the Rings series. Wander through the picturesque hillside setting to see more than 40 individual “hobbit holes”.

Another highlight of Waikato is the Waitomo Caves, a complex network of sinkholes, underground rivers and limestone caves. Book a walking or boat tour of the caves to see an impressive display of stalactites and stalagmites. If you’re ready for a challenge, try rafting through the underground labyrinth with an experienced guide. Find the remarkable natural formations under the hills of Waitomo.

Stop at Hamilton for riverside walks and beautiful botanical gardens. The fourth-largest city in New Zealand features many excellent cafés, restaurants and bars. Visit Waikato Museum to learn the region’s history. Attend many international sporting events, including rugby, netball and cricket matches. With luxurious hotels and self-contained apartments, Hamilton is a great place to stay when visiting Waikato.

The scenic region is famous for its charming small towns. Stop at Cambridge for beautiful heritage buildings and pretty tree-lined streets. Tour a thoroughbred horse stud park or shop in many antique stores in the town centre. Cambridge also contains lovely public parks, attractive gardens and outstanding local restaurants.

Other excellent small towns include the West Coast beach town of Raglan and the historic coal town of Huntly. Find Waikato on New Zealand’s North Island, about 167 kilometres (104 miles) south of Auckland.

With so many attractive towns and lively urban areas, you’ll find perfect accommodations in Waikato.

Popular cities in Waikato

Wairakei showing a hot spring
Wairakei
Get close to volcanic wonders and experience the geothermal power of the center of New Zealand's picturesque North Island.

Reasons to visit

  • Craters of the Moon
  • Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa
  • Aratiatia Rapids
Waihi featuring tranquil scenes, a small town or village and landscape views
Waihi
Take a scenic train ride, hike through a rugged gorge, learn about gold mining or go for a surf in this little-known place on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula.

Reasons to visit

  • Martha Mine
  • Gilmour Reserve
  • Owharoa Falls
Huka Falls which includes a bridge and rapids as well as a large group of people
Taupo
Visit a beautiful lakeside town and venture into its surrounding volcanic countryside to see awesome natural wonders and to enjoy thrilling outdoor adventures. 

Reasons to visit

  • Taupo Bungy
  • Taupo Museum and Art Gallery
New Zealand
Hamilton
Surrounded by some of the most popular attractions on the North Island, Hamilton combines the authenticity of a country town and the cultural richness of a city.

Reasons to visit

  • Hamilton Gardens
Thames which includes a house
Thames
Marvel at the beauty of this town’s setting in the Coromandel Peninsula, get your heart pumping on a canyoning trip, step back into gold mining history or buy some local artwork.
Cambridge showing night scenes and an administrative building
Cambridge
This beautiful leafy haven with its quiet parks and stunning lakes makes for a great day trip from Hamilton.