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WaikatoNew 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

Huka Falls which includes a bridge and rapids as well as a large group of people
Taupo
Known for Lake, Spa and Family-friendly
Set in a geothermal landscape, overlooking New Zealand’s largest lake, it’s only logical that Taupo is a hot item on the North Island’s tourist trail.

Reasons to visit

  • Craters of the Moon
  • Taupo Bungy
  • Taupo Museum and Art Gallery
Wairakei showing a hot spring
Wairakei
Known for Dining, Friendly People and Spa
While an unlikely holiday destination at first sight, Wairakei’s powerful natural features can sooth the soul.

Reasons to visit

  • Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa
  • Prawn Farm
  • Aratiatia Rapids
New Zealand
Hamilton
Known for Spa, Family-friendly and Garden
Hamilton has the appeal of a country town and the cultural attractions of a city, and is close to many of New Zealand’s popular attractions on the North Island.

Reasons to visit

  • Hobbiton Movie Set
  • Hamilton Gardens
Waihi featuring tranquil scenes, a small town or village and landscape views
Waihi
Known for Swimming, Hiking and Biking
Waihi and gold mining go way back and today the town and its mine are inseparable, both still going for gold.

Reasons to visit

  • Martha Mine
  • Gilmour Reserve
Cathedral Cove Beach which includes a sunset, a beach and general coastal views
Whitianga
Known for Beach View, Sea and Walking
It’s all about the water at this laid-back coastal town on Mercury Bay where you can explore beautiful beaches, including one that’s naturally heated, and fascinating coves.

Reasons to visit

  • Mercury Bay
Thames which includes a house
Thames
Known for Tour, River View and Historical
From an old gold-mining town, Thames has turned into a quaint little oasis. All is not as mellow as it seems though…