Victoria Bridge at the south end of town, is lit at night with a nice lighting display. If you drive down oneway Grantham Street, you get a nice view. You may have to drive around the block a time or two as it's a oneway street, to find a park.
This is a free nighttime entertainment and maybe even children may enjoy. And during rainy nights you can even see it from your car :-)
If you go to my videos for Hamilton, I've loaded a video of some of this lighting display.
Every year in April they hold the Balloons Over Waikato Fiesta. A great spectacle and lots of colour and activities to watch. Super family entertainment, even if it is very early in the morning. Some of the events are later in the day.
The first morning's MASS ASCENSION is often very exciting, depending on the weather. This region can produce a variety of weather, some of it preventing the balloons from launching.
On the Friday morning some balloons launch from Innes Common, however many go to schools in the region and launch from them.
Saturday - NIGHTGLOW extravaganza - 4.00pm - 8.00pm . This is a fun spectacle and great as a family event. Live Music, Fireworks, see the balloons up close and lighting up to the rhythm of music, it's fantastic.
See my travelogues for more photos:
Balloons Over Waikato and Frog Balloon Gets in the Lake.
Dates for 2013, 3 - 7 April. Including the event: Morning Glow Ascention.
The gardens have several distinct sections, including the Paradise Collection, the Productive Collection, the Fantasy Collection, the Cultivar Collection, and the Landscape Collection. I visited the first one.
Herein are the Chinese Scholars Garden, English Flower Garden, Japanese Garden of Comtemplation, Italian Renaissance Garden, American Modernist Garden, and Indian Char Bagh Garden.
Drive down to the lake, there are plenty of places to stop the car and take a break. A flask of coffee and something to eat will let you relax a little better while you take in the ambience of the scene before you. Nice gardens, including a Rose Garden. There is a cafe near the carpark, and plenty of ducks for the kids to feed. Also a playground for the children to let off some energy :-)
You can see about 10 different styles of garden around the world. Excellent pick for a picnic trip. They have seats in different gardens, of course the seat matches the theme, and it is a good experience to travel around the world in a short-time.
Admission to all areas of Hamilton Gardens is free.
For photo, please go here.
Click here for more info on Hamilton Garden
This is definetely one of the "must do"s when visiting the North Island. However, as it is not exactly off the beaten path, you'll risk up walking in line for most of the trip. To avoid this, try starting from the other end of the hike than the usual (I can't remember the name, but ask around at the tourist office in Tapuo, then do the exaxt opposite route of what they recommend...) For this you will need to have your own car, as all the tourist buses basically drop you off at the other end and then drive to the finish/starting point to pick you up.
What I did was to start off a little late, an then spend about 2 hrs up to the first hut called Ketetahi hut. It lies in beautiful surroundings, close to a sacred hotspring (not allowed to visit..!), and is a perfect place for small trips or just relax in the sunshine. The next day, after leaving my big pack at the hut wit the warden, I went up to the main plateu while passing extinct volcanoes and deep blue lakes. When I came to about half-way (you'll see a steep gravel road, which is a pain to climb) the people from the tourist buses started showing up. Instead of continuing where they came from, I took a left and was suddenly on the moon! Walking in an enourmous crater there was no other people around, and it felt surreal. From here, I navigated my way back to the hut which was fairly easy as the landscape was all flat. On the way, you had a view of almost the entire North Island. When I came back, there was still enough time to get down to the car before dark. Anyway, it woul probably be better to stay one more nights, as there was heaps more to explore.
I visited in late fall, which is probably the best time to go because of less tourists and not too hot to climb. Oh, and you have to pay to stay in the huts, which is cheaper if you pay in advance at the tourist office in Tapuo.
Hamilton Zoo is compact and interesting, and you can get quite close to the animals. It's beneficial to buy a Zoo Guide so you can better manage your visit. This zoo is in many global programmes to help with the survival of endangered species. It's not a huge zoo on the global scale, but is very close to the city, has interesting animals and is great for local people as well as visitors if they are particularly interested. For children in the region it is especially interesting, as a close by opportunity to see these creatures in reality.
You can see more photos and information on my VT page here.
Every year on or near St Patrick's Day, at the home of the Tainui Tribe, there is a spectacle and dispay of the Maori Waka. These are large traditional canoes, carved from trees. This regatta has a history of over 100 years, and includes school student races as well as the large Waka parade.
If you can visit this, you will see real cultural aspects of Maori life, as this day is for themselves and is not a spectacle designed for tourists. I suppose really this event is a unique and special treasure, and one that is open to the public. So if you are in the area at the time, try to attend the Waka Regatta.
Entry is Adults $10 each.
These beautiful gardens are a nice place to go to relax or escape the city. There are heaps of themed gardens - from English to Japanese to Italian Rennaissance to herb. There is a lake in the center near a small concession/information centre. It runs along the beautiful Waikato River.
I remember going to Hamilton Zoo with my cousins and grandmother as a child and really enjoying it so if you are in Hamilton and have a young family I recommend it.
The zoo is set in 25 hectares of landscaped grounds. They have many native and exotic birds and animals (reptiles and mammals) and one of the main attractions for bird lovers is the large walkthrough aviary.
The Hamilton Zoo is committed to conservation and education so if you take an interest in animals you should visit the zoo and offer your feedback!
Hamilton Zoo is open 7 days a week from 9 - 5.
Adults - $10.00
Children - $5.00 (2 - 17 years, under 2 years free)
Tertiary students - $7.50 each
Family - $30.00 (2 Adults and up to 4 children)
There are also group concessions available.
The Waipa Delta is a paddle steamer that cruises the Waikato River. It's home is near the city centre. You can take a cruise for morning or afternoon tea and there are also buffet lunch cruises and cocktail and dinner cruises. There are three scheduled cruises that run from Thursday to Sunday and on public holidays with private charters also available. The different cruises have different prices so check the website if you are interested in making a booking
The Hamilton Gardens are a lovely place to go even if you aren't really a "flower person". They have some themed gardens (see my travelogue for pics) where you can have your wedding if you want (the Italian garden pictured is a popular one for weddings!).
There is a lake with ducks and swans which is popular with kids. There is a cafe for refreshments or you can bring your own picnic if you like.
I really enjoyed walking around the gardens and chatting.
The Waikato river is well worth admiring.
We sat beside it and enjoyed our Quiche and Smoked Cod pie for lunch. If we'd had more free time, it would have been a great place to take a nice quiet walk along the bank.
This time, a nice shot of the gazebo under the bridge at the Waikato river.
This part of the river was a few hundred metres outside of the town centre, and nice and quiet.