Visit the town of Matamata where you can go on the popular Hobbiton Movie Set tour, Lord of the Rings.
Buy your tickets and catch the tour from the Matamata Information Office right in the centre of town.
This is a Must See for all Tolkien fans, and is enroute from Auckland to Rotorua.
9.30, 10.45, 12.00, 1.15, 2.30
This is a Otorohanga Zoological Society venue and is run to conserve nature and as a non-profit making venture.
This kiwihouse has been around for as long as I can remember. I'm sure they have improved and renovated the house, but this surely must be the flagship of kiwi displays in our history.
I'm sure it's situation is brought about by the nearby bush areas and possibly the hurt kiwis needing care.
With Waitomo caves in the general area, it can be co-ordinated with a visit there. I do hope you add it to your itinerary when travelling around NZ.
The Park and Souvenir shop are open every day of the year except Christmas Day, from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
(June, July & August: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM) .
Adults $12 NZD
Children 5 - 16yrs $4
Special rates for groups can be arranged prior to arrival.
Nocturnal kiwi displays
New Zealand's largest aviary
Rare native birds
Live tuataras - very special to see!!
I admit it, I love flowers and I love to potter about in the Garden (when I am not living in the desert of Saudi Arabia!). The Hamilton Gardens is a special place to visit and it is free to enter.
What makes this place so special is the different themed gardens throughout the area, there are six of them in total to date.
The Chinese Scholars Garden
The Japanese Garden of Contemplation
The English Flower Garden
The American Modernist Garden
The Italian Renaissance Garden
In addition to these gardens a new Indian Garden is yet to be built. The Gardens are also home to the Hamilton East Cemetery and various walks all set on 58 hectares of land, so there is plenty to see and do here especially when there is a Garden show or even a fair on. It is also a popular spot to have a wedding.
More information and photography can be found in my Hamilton Travelogue.
This is such a fun way to spend a few hours, and for just $20!!
We hired a sea kayak and paddled across the lake and up a river and discovered an Amazon-like environment. Really nice venue, and quite accessible.
If you phone and book the kayaks for the morning, around 10am (they open at 10am), when you return you can enjoy a lovely lunch at the Boatshed Café. Really nice little place.
THE BOATSHED CAFE & KAYAKS.
The Castle Pamela is New Zealand's largest Doll and toy collection in New Zealand. Located in the little town in Tirau (Tee raul), it is a popular attraction for both the young and old. As a Golly collector, I was very pleased to come across my beloved little people who have been very much part of my life.
The Castle is open 7 days a week from 9.30am onwards and is a great place to visit with a group, ideal for us VT'ers who also want to have a get together as they have a cafe as well and you can also sit outside near the entrance. An average tour can take up to an hour perhaps more depending on your group size.
The Castle is also home to the largest collection of the Royal Albert cup and saucers seen in New Zealand.
Adults $8 ($7 if there are 10 or more people)
Children $5 ($4 for a group)
Bridal Veil Falls is a beautiful and impressive 55m plunging waterfall near the seaside town of Raglan. To reach the falls, follow the track along side the Pakoka River for most of the way.
There are two good viewing areas there. The waterfall can be viewed from both its top and at its base by taking the steep set of steps down to the next viewing platform. The rocks around the pool are mainly soft sandstones that have been worn down by the river to form a large ampitheatre
Allow about 20mins return for the walk.
If you like waterfalls, DONT MISS this one!
I did this first 12 years ago and it is more or less the same - Wonderful!
The guides are great at encouraging people to do what they can. They are also informative about the glow-worms and the formation of the cave system.
Tirau was once upon a time a little town that you drove through on the way to Hamilton or Rotorua or whichever way you were travelling and didn't have much apart from a local public bar and a shop or two. There was very little there apart from the beautiful surrounding farms. As it's local website says "By the end of 1980's Tirau was becoming a victim of the centralisation and urbanisation that had affected so many rural towns in N.Z." (www.tirauinfo.homestead.com). Their bank closed down after an armed hold up and many of the other businesses decided to do the same, it really wasnt the place to be.
Today Tirau is really humming, it is bright and colourful and there are so many beautiful shops that people are know flocking to this little place to purchase all sorts of giftwares for their homes, loved ones or just to go and have a nice day out. What changed this little place was one man purchasing an antique shop which became so popular that people started coming again. Henry Clothier then purchased a few other shops which in return brought the attention of other retailers to the area.
One thing that really stands out in Tirau is the corregated iron which is generally used to make buildings in particular roofs. One man with a colourful imagination came up with a sheep design for his new shop and pretty soon his imagination ran wild with all sorts of new projects that have graced the streets. Today we can see many of John Drake and Keith Carver's works and are often used as signs. These pictures are just a sample of their creative talent.
Originally known by its maori name, Whangaroa, it was changed to the spelling of Whaingaroa so it couldn't be confused with the harbour of the same name in the Far North. Later again it was given the name Raglan and nowadays its known as 'Raglan By The Sea', as it is a coastal town with several beaches and a harbour. Amongst wax heads its known simply as "Raggers".
The population swells in summer as this is a popular holiday spot and a favourite hangout for surfies. Much to the disgust of a lot of the locals Raglan is suffering from the effects of creeping gentrification. It still retains some of its bohemian ambiance but now boasts up market eateries and a Cyber-Cafe. Tongue and Groove, a studiously hip dive with broken surfboards for tables, and Vinnie's, where Hawaiian transplant Colin Chung refuels spent surfers with such decidedly un-Kiwi fare as burritos and pizza.
There is lots to do, and a relaxing atmosphere. Raglan people are generally relaxed and friendly, with many resident artists, surfers, and musicians.
We passed through here on our way Paeora to Cambridge. Its only a small country town, with lots of Dairy farms and other rural industries.
I wanted to visit as I had read and seen pictures about the town.
Our 1st stop was probably like everybody elses, at the BIG DOG INFORMATION CENTRE which is right alongside the BIG SHEEP. These buildings were built in 1998, so they are not that old. We had a look quick look around, and saw some interesting corrugated iron shapes.
I would like to go back here and have a look at the new ones that are there
Great work by the people of Tirau to get people to come to their town, its a real tourist attraction.
The Arapuni Suspension Bridge is located just downstream from the Arapuni Power Station on the Waikato River. The 152-metre suspension bridge in the bush-lined gorge was built in the mid-1920s to allow workers from the village of Arapuni to access the power station construction site. It is listed as a Historic Place.
I walked across it, it was great, I was so high up above the raging water below, quite an experience. Views of the gorge were pretty good too!
The site can be accessed via a walkway starting on Arapuni Road opposite Rabone Street.
There is a road a little further down where you can get photos looking back to the bridge
Cambridge is a really nice town, with lots of tree lined streets and beautiful old buildings. They even have a Cambridge Tree trail that you can follow! Antique stores, arts and crafts shops.
You can get a leaflet from the info centre of the Heritage walk around the town, and you can also do a tour to the beautifu gardens in the area. I bought a nice good quality souvenir from the Information centre that I saw nowhere else in New Zealand.
When walking along the streets of Cambridge we saw the " EQUINE STARS WALK OF FAME" These are mosaics of Cambridge bred racehorse winners and others embedded in the pavement. 13 winners of the Melbourne Cup have been bred here.
Start at the brass Mare & Foal sculpture in Victoria Street, infront of the Town Hall. A "Wall Of Fame" which has the 13 cup winners on it, is infront of the National Bank.
Tours to Racehorse studs can also be taken, the studs are very "posh" around here, I think the horses live in better accommodation than a lot of people!
Trotting and Polo is also enjoyed here. Mark Todd, the Olympic Equestrian rider also comes from this area.
We took Maungakaw road up a hill to a lookout that gave lovely views over the Cambridge area. There is a native bush walk(approximately 20 minutes) for stretching the legs, and may be spotting a tui and wood pigeon that are meant to be found in the area, we didn't see either! In Spring, it is meant to be pretty when the Daffodils are in flower.
It was nice when we were there even though it wasn't spring!
Being a keen gardener, Hamilton Gardens was on my must visit list. These were fairly large themed gardens. Well done and not at their best, Spring & Summer would be the best times to visit, they still weren't disappointing. A lot of work has gone into these gardens, and I thought it nice that admission was still FREE!
There are five different gardens
The Paradise Garden Collection featuring gardens representing some of the most significant garden design traditions.....
The Fantasy Garden Collection representing different forms of garden fantasy, and the Cultivar, Landscape and Productive Garden Collections.
Leave yourself some time, as there is a lot to see here. Rodgers Rose garden has over 4000 roses to view, the English garden is beautiful, there are many more to see, to numerous to mention.
Visiting times .......
The central theme gardens are open from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm in winter and 8pm in summer.
The Information Centre is open seven days a week from 10.00am to 4.00pm and later during busy summer periods.
The Gardens Cafe is open from 10am to 5pm in winter and 10am to 6pm in summerThe Victorian Flower Garden Display Houses are open from 10am to 4pm in winter and from 10am to 5pm in summer.
ADMISSION TO THE GARDENS IS FREE
The Zen garden is for viewing from a pavilion and one must use one's imagination. Using one's imagination becomes a Zen exercise.
THE JAPANESE GARDEN OF CONTEMPLATION.
As the name says, it really is a nice area where I could sit and let the worries of the world disappear!
As with most Japanese gardens, it is set around a pond and designed to be viewed from an observation building opening onto a verandah.
Once again, ancient rules have been used to produce the desired effect of the garden with islands, trees and rocks. These two gardens, the Shoin style scroll garden and the Dry garden have no emphasis on flowers, colour or blossom.
Green & Grey are the main colours, still is a very relaxing garden to view, you can feel the serenity of the garden.
The Novotel Tainui is the only 4 star hotel in Hamilton. Standard Rooms are available for about...more
Waitomo Caves Village, RD7, Otorohanga, North Island, 9999, New Zealand
Good for: Business
This is the BEST hotel I've ever visited! (And I travel a lot!) The rooms were impeccably clean,...more