The Waikato area is known for its lush greenery and rich farmland. It is also the heartland of the Tainui iwi (local Māori tribe) whose presence in the region, the city and the University is substantial and vibrant. Waikato takes its name from the river, New Zealand’s longest, meaning ‘meeting of the waters’.
The fourth largest city in New Zealand, Hamilton is at the heart of the Waikato region, and has minimal traffic issues, an international airport, and a rapidly growing restaurant and café culture. Cafés offer everything from espresso coffee to gourmet club sandwiches and three course breakfasts. Restaurants range from inexpensive pizzerias, through to exclusive establishments with prices to match, and there are a wide variety of cuisine options to choose from, so you can enjoy experiencing tastes from around the world. Hamilton has a range of places to meet friends, have fun, or just relax. The city also has many pubs and nightclubs to enjoy.
Hamilton has a full calendar of events like art festivals, theatre, river action and more – and is the home of the Fuel Festival of New Zealand Theatre. The award winning Artspost Gallery and the Waikato Museum of Art and History are located right in the heart of the city. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra visits the city several times a year and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra tours from time to time, while Hamilton Chamber Music organises an outstanding mix of international and national artists for its series every year. There are numerous amateur choral, orchestral, operatic and music theatre groups in the city that present performances and offer opportunities for performers.
For the sports enthusiasts, Hamilton is a goldmine of opportunity which includes sports fields, parks, swimming pools, cycleways, netball courts, jogging tracks, horse trails, indoor cricket, golf, soccer and rock climbing.
The University of Waikato is at the heart of adventure country. Raglan and the southern hemisphere’s best left-hand break are just 40 minutes away, while the Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty have some of the country’s most beautiful beaches. Waikato is the closest university to Whakapapa’s ski resorts, and there are forests, lakes and thermal hot pools within an easy drive of campus. South Waikato has mountain biking, rock climbing and motor sport courses, while adrenalin junkies can opt for jet boating, quad biking or some of the best white water rafting in the country.
Waikato also has some of New Zealand’s best kept gardens, including Te Awamutu’s acclaimed rose gardens and the beautiful themed Hamilton Gardens that attract more than 1.3 million visitors each year. Hamilton Zoo, located on 35 acres of land, has the largest free flight aviary in Australasia and also houses the New Zealand Forgotten Forest exhibition.