Self Drive Holidays Hamilton

 Travel Ideas for your Hamilton Driving Holiday

New Zealand's largest Inland city sits astride the mighty Waikato - New Zealand's longest river. Waikato means "Flowing Water", and is also the name of the surrounding region. Hamilton is the centre of the dairy industry so make sure to visit a local restaurant and try the beef and cheeses - the best in the world as the locals will tell you. Hamilton is also a great base for some of the country's best driving journeys. With forest, farmland, magnificent harbours and the underground wonderland of Waitomo all on your doorstep, this is a dream driver's destination.





SELF DRIVE HOLIDAYS HAMILTON - ONE DAY IN HAMILTON

Hamilton Gardens

The Hamilton Gardens are the most popular visitor attraction in the Waikato - and it's not hard to see why. The gardens are arranged in collections that are at times beautiful, tranquil, clever and surprising. Visit the Fantasy Collection for whimsy and the Paradise Collection for a trip around the world of landscaping style with Japanese, Indian, American Modernist and English arrangements all represented. This attraction is free and is located just south of central Hamilton on State Highway 1, an easy drive with ample parking available.


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Hamilton Zoo

Handy to the City, the Hamilton Zoo is a great way to spend a calm afternoon visiting the nearly 600 local and exotic animals. A special highlight is the largest walk-through aviary in Australasia - a wonderful encounter with New Zealand native plant life and indigenous birds. This character-filled Zoo started life as a wildlife park belonging to a local couple in the 1960s and has the charming feel of a much-loved project. Located just 7 minutes from downtown Hamilton.


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Waikato Museum

The Museum is a great place to learn about the local Maori Iwi, the Tainui. There you'll find a wonderful story of how the land, the river and the people meet to make Waikato the region it is today. Waikato is home to the Maori King movement and a highlight is the 200-year-old carved waka taua (Maori war canoe), Te Whare Waka o Te Winika, which was gifted by the late Maori Queen Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu. Parking is reasonable and the Museum is central.


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Cruise the Waikato

The best way to get a feel for Hamilton is from the river. One of the best known cruises, and deservedly so, is "Te Awa Kuini" (The River Queen). If you like the idea of some romance in your evening you can even Bring Your Own champagne for their twilight cruise!


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SELF DRIVE HOLIDAYS HAMILTON - RECOMMENDED ATTRACTIONS


Waitomo Caves

No visit to the Waikato is complete without a visit to the Waitomo Caves, one of New Zealand's great attractions. Visit one of three major caves. This can involve an eerie boat-trip, a walk through forest to astounding stalactites and stalagmites, or simply a chance to marvel at the millions of points of living light. There is also a range of terrifyingly enjoyable black water activities on offer for the more adventurous traveller. On the way back from this hour long, smooth drive be sure to visit Otarahonga and their famous Kiwihouse, where you'll catch the New Zealand national bird as close as you're likely to get.


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Raglan - Surf Town

45 minutes' drive to the West Coast, Raglan is home to some of the best Surf Breaks in the country - and some might say the world!
Visit Raglan for the laid back culture - take a surfing lesson, walk along the beautiful beaches or just grab a coffee. If you're feeling like a stroll to remember be sure to check out the Bridal Veil Falls walk - just fifteen minutes' drive and ten minutes' easy walk to see this magnificent waterfall. Remember, before doing any walks in New Zealand be sure to let someone know your plans and follow the advice on the Department of Conversation website.


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Cambridge

Cambridge is a horse-breeding and racing town just 20 minutes South-East of Hamilton. It is known as The Town of Trees - a deserved title for this most English of destinations. Visit the museum and the heritage buildings for a feel of yesteryear - and make time to visit the mountain wildlife sanctuary Maungatautari just 15 minutes to the south. It has a 16m high forest-canopy viewing platform. There you can see firsthand the attempts to reforest and repopulate the area with native birds while attempting to remove all predators. At night you might even hear a Kiwi..


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Te Aroha and Hobbiton

Head east on SH26 and straight up to Te Aroha. They have a world-class spa, with water from a Soda spring. It has been renovated with a heritage feel - a great spot to revive the romance of the past with modern comfort. Then head south through Matamata towards Cambridge. Soon you will find Hobbiton. That's right - parts of the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed near here and the set has been preserved as an attraction on private land. The set is being used again for the Hobbit movies - so during 2011 and 2012 be sure to check they will be open before you visit.


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SELF DRIVE HOLIDAYS HAMILTON - LOCAL FAVOURITES


Visit Riff Raff

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - the worldwide smash hit - has a local connection: it was inspired by a double feature at Hamilton's Embassy Theatre. Richard O'Brien - creator of the show and known for his portrayal of the character Riff Raff - spent his formative young-adult years as a resident of Hamilton. A statue of Riff Raff commemorates O'Brien and stands where the theatre once did.


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Port Waikato

The Waikato meets the sea North-West of Hamilton. It is a lovely and often overlooked drive to Port Waikato, and once on the coast you can enjoy a truly special and private escape. There's great surfing to be had here, and you might be able to guess the other attraction at Sunset Beach? Be sure to grab fish'n'chips and enjoy the end of the day in a truly breathtaking spot.
If you can, come for the Whitebait season between the middle of August and end of November and sample a local delicacy.


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Rugby - Waikato Chiefs / Mooloos

The Waikato is a rugby-mad region. The local National Provincial Championship (NPC) side - the Mooloos - inspires fierce loyalty. Get yourself some of their red, yellow and black colours and head to a home game to see them or, in the same colours, the Super Rugby team The Chiefs. To really fit in be sure to take a cow-bell!


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Taitua Arboretum

A short distance west of Hamilton you'll find this 20-hectare garden complex - complete with lakes, established trees, woodland gardens, bridges and walks.
This mature treescape is a secret gem in the region.


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V8 Supercars

Hamilton has successfully made a home for the V8 Supercars - holding the itm400 through the city's streets and building the event to the point that it can now claim to be the largest sports event in New Zealand. If you can make it to the April event you'll catch a festival atmosphere and a lot of burning rubber.


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