What to do in Hamilton

by Noted / 19 June, 2017
Hamilton is one of the fastest growing centres in the country right now, which is great for visitors. More places to stay, more pubs, more shopping; Hamilton has it all. It’s a seat of learning and business development, but hasn’t forgotten about parks and bike tracks


FMG Stadium Waikato, Seddon Road, Hamilton Capacity: 25,800

Hamiltonians love their rugby, so FMG Stadium Waikato is routinely witness to a full house. Later this year it will be hosting two games in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, the first time that code has ever paid a visit to the park.

No need for taxis; the stadium is just a 15-minute walk from the city’s main drag, Victoria Street, which makes it rather easy to get to from where you probably want to be.


It might feel busy and expanding (because it is), but Hamilton is also well-known for its parks and gardens. There’s even a lake (Lake Rotoroa, confusingly) slap-bang in the middle of town. Hamilton Gardens borders the Waikato River which lazes its way through the city, making for an especially enjoyable amble if you have the time.


Hamilton is a river city, with the country’s longest waterway – the Waikato River – running right through the centre of town. Book a seat on the Waikato River Explorer and head up on deck with your camera for snap-worthy scenes of lush bush, mist-shrouded shores and big bridges. Pick your cruise perfectly and there are wine trips on offer too, although make sure your camera has its auto-focus function activated.


Inside SkyCity Hamilton you’ll find a variety of first class dining establishments, including

La Parrilla, which is receiving rave reviews for offering up the best traditional Spanish cuisine in town.

The award-winning Chim Choo Ree on Bridge Street fuses Asian fare with Kiwi classics, with a real focus on game meats. Book in before you head to the match.

If you want to twin your food with views, head to Gothenburg Café Restaurant & Bar on Grantham Street. You’ll be able to enjoy awesome tapas and gaze out over the Waikato River, all at the same time.


Imagine if gastro-boffin Heston Blumenthal decided to start brewing beer. We reckon Hamilton’s Good George Brewing would be the result. Yes, they create crafty classics such as amber and pale ales, a pilsner and both IPA and APAs. But they also have a penchant for the whimsical, with unique drops like Scarlett O’Hara Peach Cider, Rocky Road Black Stout and Rocket Coffee IPA pushing the boat out.


Grab a rental car (ideally one with surfboard-friendly roof-rails) and head west to Raglan on the Waikato coast. This hip spot mixes surf culture with championship coffee intake and a slower-paced rural Kiwi vibe. Whether you’re relaxing down at the beach, doing ‘bombs’ off the famous Raglan footbridge spanning the inner harbour, or chowing down in one of the many cafés and restaurants, you’ll pat yourself on the back for discovering this quintessential Kiwi seaside town. In fact, you’re only 45 minutes from Hamilton here, so look at hiring a Raglan beach house for your time in the Waikato... just for something completely different between matches.


Hamilton is an agri-science wonderland (if agri-science is indeed something you consider wondrous), with Waikato University a flash-point of all that is academically innovative and globally-focused within New Zealand’s robust primary industries. Hamilton also boasts around a thousand PhD-qualified scientists in residence. Brainy!


It’s not so much language as sound; head to a Waikato rugby game at FMG Stadium Waikato and the stands will resonate with the sound of a dozen cow bells, not being rung in unison. The provincial Waikato side is known as the ‘Mooloos’, hence the cow bell connection. Who needs an emotive stadium anthem to sing along to when the endless clonkin of unchoreographed cow bells will do?


This was originally published in The Tour, a souvenir magazine for the British and Irish Lions 2017. On sale now.

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