BUG New Zealand travel guidebook
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BUG New Zealand travel guidebook


BUG New Zealand travel guidebook

Destination guides > Pacific Islands > New Zealand > Waikato > Hamilton


Hamilton is New Zealand’s largest inland city and its fourth largest urban area overall, with a population of around 131,000. It’s traditionally been an agricultural centre, but Hamilton is also a university town, with more than 40,000 tertiary students enrolled at the University of Waikato, Waikato Institute of Technology and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Hamilton is young and fast-growing and has a surprisingly vibrant nightlife and restaurant scene.
Hamilton is known for its impressive botanic gardens. Hamilton also has a good zoo and the Waikato Museum, as well as several art galleries. The town hosts several events throughout the year, including a V8 supercar race and a hot-air balloon festival, both in April.

Also, Rocky Horror Picture Show fans take note: a bronze statue of the character Riff Raff can be found at the south end of Victoria Street, in commemoration of Hamilton resident Richard O’Brien, who dreamed up the cult hit.

The Waikato River flows through the town and makes for a pleasant riverfront setting.

Practical information

Hamilton i-SITE Visitor Centre

Transport Centre, Corner Anglesea & Bryce Streets, Hamilton
Tel (07) 958 5960
Website www.visithamilton.co.nz
Open Mon-Thu 8.30am-5pm, Fri 8.30am-6pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm


There are two branches of Esquires (9 Ward Street, Hamilton & 501 Victoria Street, Hamilton) with free Wi-Fi access.

Coming & going

Hamilton is a major transport hub and many people who visit the city come here to make connections.


Hamilton International Airport (tel (07) 848 9027), 12km south of Hamilton, is an alternative to Auckland Airport. Chesters Airport Shuttles (tel (07) 843 4538) and Supershuttle (tel 0800 748 885 (0800 SHUTTLE)) run between the airport and central Hamilton.
Minibus Express (tel (07) 8563191 or 0800 64 64 28 (0800 MINIBUS)) runs shuttle buses to Auckland Airport.


InterCity Coachlines (tel (09) 623 1503) and Nakedbus.com have services from Hamilton to most destinations in the North Island and Metrowide (tel 0800 2163876 (0800 21METRO)) have buses to Tauranga and Waitomo. Environment Waikato runs regional bus services to towns in the Waikato region including Raglan, Taupo and the Coromandel Peninsula.

Buses stop at the Hamilton Travel Centre at the corner of Anglesea and Bryce Streets.


Tranz Scenic’s (tel 0800 872 467 (0800 TRAINS)) Overlander service between Auckland and Wellington stops in Hamilton.

Local transport

Hamilton has a good local bus network operated by Environment Waikato that is comprised of 24 city routes including the CBD shuttle, a free bus route that runs a loop through the city centre every 10 minutes. A single cash fare costs $2.60 for other bus routes in Hamilton city.

Hostel accommodation

Eagle’s Nest Backpackers

937 Victoria Street, Hamilton
Tel (07) 838 2704

J’s Backpackers

8 Grey Street, Hamilton
Tel (07) 856 8934

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk

MicroTel Hamilton

40 Ulster Street, Hamilton
Tel (07) 957 1848

Eating & drinking

Hamilton has a good variety of restaurants, from fast food and pub fare to Indian, Japanese, Chinese and Thai. Victoria Street is the main street for food and nightlife, with the overwhelming range of places located on or right off of this busy stretch. Centre Place shopping centre on Victoria Street has a food court. Bars and clubs tend to cluster around Victoria and Hood Streets. It can get lively here thanks to Hamilton’s large student population. There is also a smattering of bars and cafés on Grey Street in East Hamilton.

There are several centrally located supermarkets including a Countdown at the corner of Anglesea and Liverpool Streets and a Foodtown at the corner of Bryce and Tristram Streets. There are two Pak’n Save supermarkets; one on Clarence Street and another on Mill Street. There are also several specialty Asian and gourmet markets in the city.

Sightseeing, museums & tourist attractions

Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton’s impressive 58ha botanic garden features a “Story of Gardens” theme, with five different garden collections exploring garden design traditions, history, the relationships between people and plants, and more. It is a pleasant spot to relax, walk or have a picnic.

Cobham Drive (State Highway One), Hamilton
Tel (07) 856 3200
Website www.hamiltongardens.co.nz
Admission free
Open 7.30am-½hr before sunset daily

Hamilton Zoo

Situated on 21ha of parkland, Hamilton Zoo is impressive for a small town zoo and is home to a variety of wildlife from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The zoo also boasts a huge walk-through aviary, which is home to many rare and endangered New Zealand birds.

Brymer Road, Hamilton
Tel (07) 838 6720
Website www.hamiltonzoo.co.nz
Admission $12
Open 9am-5pm daily (last entry 3.30pm)

Waikato Museum of Art & History

Hamilton’s main museum has a large collection of exhibits with a focus on local history and Maori culture.

1 Grantham Street, Hamilton
Tel (07) 838 6606
Website www.waikatomuseum.org.nz
Admission free; charge for temporary exhibits
Open 10am-4.30pm daily

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