New Zealand

Hamilton is the seat and most populous city of the Waikato region, in the North Island of New Zealand.The city encompasses a land area of about 110 km2 (42 sq mi) on the banks of the Waikato River, and is home to 156,800 people, making it New Zealand's fourth most-populous city. Hamilton City is part of the wider Hamilton Urban Area, which also encompasses the nearby towns of Ngaruawahia, Te Awamutu and Cambridge.

Info Hamilton


Hamilton is the seat and most populous city of the Waikato region, in the North Island of New Zealand.

The city encompasses a land area of about 110 km2 (42 sq mi)  on the banks of the Waikato River, and is home to 156,800 people, making it New Zealand's fourth most-populous city. Hamilton City is part of the wider Hamilton Urban Area, which also encompasses the nearby towns of Ngaruawahia, Te Awamutu and Cambridge.

Initially an agricultural service centre, Hamilton now has a growing and diverse economy and is the third fastest growing urban area in New Zealand (behind Pukekohe and Auckland).  Education and research and development play an important part in Hamilton's economy, as the city is home to approximately 40,000 tertiary students and 1,000 PhD-qualified scientists.

POPULATION :• Territorial 156,800
• Urban 188,400
• Metro 224,000
TIME ZONE :• Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
• Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
LANGUAGE : English (official), Maori (official), Sign Language (official)
RELIGION :Anglican 13.8%, Roman Catholic 12.6%, Presbyterian, Congregational, and Reformed 10%, Christian (no denomination specified) 4.6%, Methodist 3%, Pentecostal 2%, Baptist 1.4%, other Christian 3.8%, Maori Christian 1.6%, Hindu 1.6%, Buddhist 1.3%, other religions 2.2%, none 32.2%, other or unidentified 9.9%
AREA :• Territorial 110.8 km2 (42.8 sq mi)
• Urban 877.1 km2 (338.7 sq mi)
ELEVATION : 40 m (131 ft)
COORDINATES : 37°47′S 175°17′E
SEX RATIO : Male: 49.20 %
 Female: 50.80 %
ETHNIC : European 56.8%, Asian 8%, Maori 7.4%, Pacific islander 4.6%, mixed 9.7%, other 13.5%
POSTAL CODE : 3200, 3204, 3206, 3210, 3214, 3216
WEBSITE :www.hamilton.govt.nz


Hamilton is an inland city in the Waikato region of New Zealand's North Island. The Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river, flows through the middle of the city. This effectively cuts the city in half, with Hamilton West containing the Central Business District and main shopping areas. Hamilton East, among other things, is home to The University of Waikato, resulting in a large student population.

Hamilton Gardens is the region's most popular tourist attraction and hosts the Hamilton Gardens Summer Festival each year. The Base is New Zealand's second largest shopping centre, with over 7.5 million visitors per year to the 190 stores. Te Awa, an enclosed speciality retail mall at The Base, was awarded a silver medal by the International Council of Shopping Centres for the second-best expansion in the Asia Pacific region.

Other local attractions include Hamilton Zoo, the Waikato Museum, theHamilton Astronomical Society Observatory, the Arts Post art gallery, and the SkyCity casino. Just 20 minutes' drive away is Ngaruawahia, the location of Turangawaewae Marae and the home of Māori King Tuheitia Paki.


The area now covered by the city was originally the site of a handful of Māori villages (kāinga), including Pukete, Miropiko and Kirikiriroa ("long stretch of gravel'), from which the city takes its Māori name. Local Māori were the target of raids by Ngāpuhi during the Musket Wars, and several pā sites from this period can still be found beside the Waikato River.In December 2011 several rua or food storage pits were found near the Waikato River bank, close to the Waikato museum. Magistrate Gorst, estimated that Kirikiriroa had a population of about 78 before the Waikato Kingitanga wars of 1863–64. The government estimated the Waikato area had a Maori population of 3,400 at the same time. By the time British settlers arrived after 1863, most of these villages had been abandoned as the inhabitants were away fighting with the Kingitanga rebels further west in the battlefields of the upper Waipa river. Missionaries arrived in the area in the 1830s. At the end of the Waikato Campaign in the New Zealand wars the four regiments of the Waikato Militia were settled as a peace-keeping force across the region. The 1st Regiment was at Tauranga, the 2nd at Pirongia, the 3rd at Cambridge and the 4th at Kirikiriroa.  The settlement was founded on 24 August 1864 and named by Colonel William Moule after Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton, the popular Scottish commander of HMS Esk, who was killed in the battle of Gate Pā, Tauranga. Many of the soldier/settlers who intended to farm after the 1863 war, walked off their land in 1868 disgusted at the poor quality of the land. Much of the land was swampy or under water. In 1868 Hamilton's population, which was about 1,000 in 1864, dropped to 300 as farmers left.

The road from Auckland reached Hamilton in 1867 and the railway in December 1877. That same month, the towns of Hamilton West and Hamilton East merged under a single borough council. The first traffic bridge between Hamilton West and Hamilton East, known as the Union Bridge, opened in 1879. It was replaced by the Victoria Bridge in 1910.

The first railway bridge, the Claudelands Bridge, was opened in 1884. It was converted to a road traffic bridge in 1965.  Hamilton reached 1,000 people in 1900, and the town of Frankton merged with the Hamilton Borough in 1917. Between 1912 and 1936, Hamilton expanded with new land in Claudelands (1912), Maeroa (1925), and Richmond – modern day Waikato Hospital and northern Melville (1936).  Hamilton was proclaimed a city in 1945.

The city is near the southernmost navigable reach (by the settlers steam boats) of the Waikato River, amidst New Zealand's richest and now fertile agricultural land that was once largely Raupo and Kahikatea swamp Beale Cottage is an 1872 listed building in Hamilton East.

From 1985 MV Waipa Delta  provided excursions along the river through the town centre. In 2009 Waipa Delta  was moved to provide trips on Waitemata Harbour in Auckland,  but replaced by a smaller boat. That too ceased operation and the pontoon at Parana Park was removed in 2013.  The Delta moved to Taupo in 2012.

On 10 March 2013 a statue was erected in honour of Captain John Charles Fane Hamilton, the man whom the city is named after.


Hamilton’s climate is oceanic (Köppen: Cfb ), with highly moderated temperatures due to New Zealand’s location surrounded by ocean. Despite this, as the largest inland city in the country winter mornings can be cold by New Zealand standards (the lowest of the North Island’s main centers), occasionally dropping as low as −4°C (25 °F). Likewise summers can be some of the hottest in the country with temperatures rising as high as 29°C. Hamilton also features very high humidity (similar to tropical climates such as Singapore) which can make temperatures feel uncomfortably warm or cold. Ground frosts are common and snow is possible but rare. The only recorded snowfall in modern times was light snowflakes in mid August 2011 during a prolonged cold period that saw snowfall as far north as Dargaville.

Hamilton receives considerable precipitation amounting to around 1,100mm over 125 days per year. This coupled with average sunshine hours of around 2000 makes Hamilton and the surrounding Waikato an extremely fertile region.

Typically summers are warm and dry and winters cool and wet. Fog is common during winter mornings, especially close to the Waikato River which runs through the city center. Heavy fog usually burns off by noon to produce sunny and calm winter days. Hamilton also has the lowest average wind speed of New Zealand’s main centers as a result of its inland location, in a depression surrounded by high hills and mountains. 

Climate data for Hamilton, New Zealand 

Average high °C (°F)23.9
Daily mean °C (°F)18.4
Average low °C (°F)12.9
Source: NIWA


The landscape of Hamilton was formed by the last eruption of the Lake Taupo volcano complex 1800 years ago which sent waves of volcanic debris northwards and changed the path of the Waikato River to its present path. With the exceptions of the many low hills such as those around the University of Waikato, Hamilton Lake, Beerescourt, Sylvester Road, Pukete and to the west of the city, and an extensive network of gullies, the terrain of the city is relatively flat. In some areas such as Te Rapa, one old path of an ancient river can be traced. The relatively soft and unconsolidated soil material is still being actively eroded by rain and runoff.

In its natural state, Hamilton and environs was very swampy in winter with many of the 30 small lakes overflowing into surrounding peat swamps. Hamilton is surrounded by 7 large peat bogs such as Komakorau to the North and Rukuhia and Moanatuatua to the South, as well as many smaller ones. The total area of peat bog is about 655 km2. Early photos of Hamilton East show carts buried up to their axles in thick mud. The site had about small lakes, most of which have now been drained. Up until the 1880s it was possible to row and drag a dinghy from the city to many outlying farms to the North East. This swampy, damp environment was ideal breeding ground for the TB bacillus, which was a major health hazard in the pioneering days. The first Hamilton hospital was constructed on a hill to avoid this problem. One of the reasons why population growth was so slow in Hamilton until the 1920s was the great difficulty in bridging the many arms of the deep swampy gullies that cross the city. Hamilton has 6 major dendritic gully complexes with the 15 km long, 12 branch, Kirikiriroa system being in the north of the city and the southern Mystery creek-Kaipaki gully complex being the largest.

In the 1930s, Garden Place Hill, one of the many small hills sometimes referred to as the Hamilton Hills, was removed by unemployed workers working with picks and shovels and model T Ford trucks. The Western remains of the hill are retained by a large concrete wall. The original hill ran from the present Wintec site eastwards to the old post office (now casino). The earth was taken 4 km north to partly fill the Maeroa gully adjacent to the Central Baptist Church on Ulster Streat, the main road heading north.

Lake Rotoroa (Hamilton Lake) began forming about 20,000 years ago. Originally it was part of an ancient river system that was cut off by deposition material and became two small lakes divided by a narrow peninsula. With higher rainfall and drainage from the extensive peat land to the west, the water level rose so the narrow peninsula was drowned so forming one larger lake. To the north the lake is 8m deep and in the southern (hospital) end 6m deep. The old dividing peninsula, the start of which is still visible above water on the eastern side, is only 2m below the surface.

Hamilton is one of the few cities in the world that has a near-exact antipodal city – Córdoba, Spain.


Education and research are important to the city, through the University of Waikato and the Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec). Research at the Ruakura research centres have been responsible for much of New Zealand's innovation in agriculture. Hamilton's main revenue source is the dairy industry, due to its location in the centre of New Zealand's largest dairying area – the Waikato region.

Hamilton annually hosts the National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek, the southern hemisphere's biggest agricultural trade exhibition. Mystery Creek is the country's largest event centre and hosts other events of national importance, such as Parachute Christian Music Festival, the National Car Show and the National Boat Show.

Manufacturing and retail are also important to the local economy, as is the provision of health services through the Waikato Hospital. The city is home to New Zealand's largest aircraft manufacturer, Pacific Aerospace, which manufactured its 1,000th aircraft in August 2009, and Micro Aviation NZwhich manufactures and exports high-quality microlight aircraft. It also has its largest concentration of trailer-boat manufacturers such as Buccaneer. Hamilton is also the home of Gallagher Group Ltd, a manufacturer and exporter of electric fencing and security systems. Employing 600 people Gallagher has been doing business in Hamilton since 1938.

Recent years have seen the firm establishment of the New Zealand base of the British flight training organisation CTC Aviation. CTC Aviation trains over 350 airline pilots a year at its crew training centre at Hamilton Airport.

Tainui Group Holdings Ltd, the commercial arm of the Waikato tribe, is one of Hamilton's largest property developers. The Waikato tribe is one of the city's largest landowners. Tainui owns land at The Base, Centre Place, The Warehouse Central, University of Waikato, Wintec, the Courthouse, Fairfield College, and the Ruakura AgResearch centre.  The Waikato tribe is a major shareholder of the Novotel Tainui and the Hotel Ibis.

It has developed the large retail centre The Base in the old Te Rapa airforce base site which was returned to Tainui, following confiscation in the 1860s, as part of a 1995 Treaty of Waitangi settlement. In mid-2010, The Base was further expanded with Te Awa Mall complex stage 1. Many large retailers such as Farmers and other nationwide speciality chains have located at Te Awa. In 2011 a further stage was opened, with cinemas, restaurants, shops and an underground carpark.

The city's three major covered shopping malls are Centre Place (formerlyDowntown Plaza) in the CBD, Westfield Chartwell and most recently Te Awa at The Base. After Farmers Hamilton moves from its existing site on corner of Alexandra and Collingwood streets into the redeveloped Centre Place in late 2013,  each major mall will have the department store as an anchor tenant.

The western suburb of Frankton is home to a smaller shopping centre and long-standing local furniture and home department store Forlongs. There are many other small suburban shopping centres or plazas, often centred on a New World or Countdown supermarket, such as in Rototuna, Hillcrest and Glenview.


Western suburbs

Beerescourt; Bader; Crawshaw;Deanwell; Dinsdale; Fitzroy; Forest Lake; Frankton; Glenview;Grandview Heights; Hamilton Central; Hamilton North; Hamilton West; Livingstone; Maeroa; Melville;Nawton; Peacocke; Pukete;Rotokauri; St Andrews;Stonebridge; Te Rapa; Temple View; Thornton; Western Heights; Whitiora.

Eastern suburbs

Ashmore; Callum Brae; Chartwell; Chedworth Park; Claudelands; Enderley;Fairfield; Fairview Downs; Flagstaff; Hamilton East; Harrowfield; Hillcrest;Huntington; Magellan Rise; Queenwood; Ruakura; Riverlea; Rototuna;Silverdale; Somerset Heights; St James Park; St Petersburg.

Towns/Suburbs in the Hamilton Urban Area

Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Ngaruawahia, Taupiri, Horotiu, Horsham Downs, Huntly, Gordonton, Ohaupo, Ngahinapouri, Te Kowhai, Whatawhata,Tamahere, Matangi, Tauwhare, Rukuhia, Kihikihi.

Prices in Hamilton



Milk1 liter$1.75
Tomatoes1 kg$3.85
Cheese0.5 kg$7.00
Apples1 kg$2.00
Oranges1 kg$2.25
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$2.90
Bottle of Wine1 bottle$12.00
Coca-Cola2 liters$2.50
Bread1 piece$1.35
Water1.5 l$1.25



Dinner (Low-range)for 2$40.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2$63.00
Dinner (High-range)for 2$95.00
Mac Meal or similar1 meal$7.80
Water0.33 l$2.20
Cappuccino1 cup$3.20
Beer (Imported)0.33 l$5.40
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$5.40
Coca-Cola0.33 l$2.35
Coctail drink1 drink$10.00



Cinema2 tickets$26.00
Gym1 month$48.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut$15.00
Theatar2 tickets$100.00
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.$0.14
Pack of Marlboro1 pack$14.00



Antibiotics1 pack$3.60
Tampons32 pieces$5.30
Deodorant50 ml.$3.25
Shampoo400 ml.$4.50
Toilet paper4 rolls$2.80
Toothpaste1 tube$3.60



Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1$70.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1$48.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1$100.00
Leather shoes1$95.00



Gasoline1 liter$1.36
Taxi1 km$2.00
Local Transport1 ticket$

Tourist (Backpacker)  

63 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • meals in cheap restaurant
  • public transport
  • cheap hotel

Tourist (business/regular)  

247 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • mid-range meals and drinks
  • transportation
  • hotel

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By bus

Buses can be sometimes full, and sometimes empty, so it can pay to book a few days in advance. Booking in advance (particularly on the internet) can also save money - up to half the fare in some cases. In any case, travelling by bus is generally a cheap option, albeit a bit slow at times.

  • InterCity Coachlines, +64 9 583 5780, is New Zealand's national coach company and operates over 150 services to more than 600 destinations nationwide.
  • Naked Bus, is New Zealand's budget national bus service and go through Hamilton many times daily.

Transportation - Get In

By Train

The Northern Explorer train runs 3 days a week from Auckland to Hamilton (departs 7:45AM, arrives 10:15AM), at $48 per person one way, then continues to Wellington. It runs from Wellington to Hamilton on 3 other days a week (departs 7:55AM, arrives 4:30PM), costing from $139, and providing an opportunity to take in some beautiful New Zealand scenery, and the famous Raurimu Rail Spiral. 

Transportation - Get In

By car

Because New Zealand's major highway (SH 1) cuts through the city, getting to Hamilton is simple. Drive south down State Highway 1 (SH 1) from Auckland. Drive northbound on SH 1 from Taupo, or connect to SH 1 from Rotorua or the Bay of Plenty.

Transportation - Get In

By plane

Hamilton International Airport now hosts only domestic flights, with flights from Australia ceasing in 2012. It has regular direct flights from:

  • Auckland - fares begin at $65 one way for a journey of 30 minutes (this flight is planned to cease in Feb 2016)
  • Wellington - fares start at $70 one way for a 1 hour journey
  • Christchurch - fares start at $135 one way direct for a 1 hr 40 minute journey (fares start at $70 if you stop in Wellington for half an hour)

There are often limited specials available to/from Hamilton available on Grab-a-seat, Air New Zealand's website for its specials.

The airport is 14 km (9 mi) from town, so allow time for airport transfers. Taxis and shuttle buses are available. Passengers who arrive on flights late in the evening on Fridays and Saturdays should arrange transport in advance as taxis can be scarce. Also, be aware that fog can close the airport on winter mornings.

Transportation - Get Around

The CBD and shopping area is easily walkable. To get to other destinations, there is a bus service provided by Environment Waikato. Bus routes and times are available online [www], and cover the whole city. A single way ticket costs $3.10 and lasts for one hour. If you intend to use the bus service frequently, it may be worth investing in a BusIt card [www], an electronic card that although costs $5, will possibly save you money due to the discounts it provides on fares - a single way ticket with a BusIt card costs $2.30 and there is an opportunity to buy a full Day Pass for $7.00.






  • Centre Place MallCnr of Ward and Worley Sts. Mon-Thurs & Sat: 9am-5.30pm, Fri: 9am-8.30pm Sun: 10am-4pm. Located in the city centre the mall includes good cafe's restaurants and clothing stores
  • The Base Te RapaCnr of Te Rapa Road and Avalon Drive. Mon-Sat: 9am-6pm, Sun: 10am-5pm, Te Awa mall open to 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays.Located on the Northern outskirt of the city, The Base includes a mall (Te Awa) and many department stores
  • ArtsPost Galleries120 Victoria St+64 7 838 6928. Is an art gallery showcasing local work. Well worth a visit, and also offers a range of items for sale, from paintings to glass blown paperweights. Daily 10AM-4:30PM. Free.
  • Casabella Lane is located on Barton St and contains many boutique stores,as well as many good cafes. One of Hamilton's best kept secrets.


  • Domaine Restaurant575 Victoria St.
  • Iguana203 Victoria St+64 7 8342280. A central city restaurant offering mainly pizza and salads.
  • The Londoner596 Victoria St+64 7 839 9941. An English-style pub at the end of Victoria Street.
  • Metropolis211 Victoria St,  +64 7 834 2081. Offers decent coffee and cafe food.

Sights & Landmarks

  • Hamilton Gardens. A nice place to visit. In addition to 'normal' gardens such as a rose garden and the Rhododendron Lawn, you can see 'themed' gardens, such as the Chinese Scholar Garden, or the American Revolutionist Garden, among others. Some of the themed gardens are inaccessible after 7:30PM (8PM in the summer). Free.
  • Hamilton ZooBrymer Rd+64 7 7 838 6720. Daily 9AM-5PM, with last admission at 3:30PM. Home to over 600 native New Zealand and exotic animals. Kids especially enjoy it. To get there, enter Hamilton from the north or south on SH1, and look for the signs on the section of SH1 called Avalon Drive (Te Rapa area in the north). $20, children $9.
  • Waikato Museum1 Grantham St (south end of Victoria St), +64 7 838 6606. Daily 10AM-4:30PM. General art and culture displays and exhibits about New Zealand and international cultures. Free entry; charges may apply for some exhibitions.

Things to do

  • Agricultural Fieldays. Hosted at Mystery Creek, brings thousands of people (125,000 in 2007) from around the world. Taking place every June, this is a must-see for an insight to farming in New Zealand.
  • Hot Air Balloon Festival. Each April is worth a look, especially the night glow event.
  • Hamilton Garden Arts Festival. Takes place every year at the end of February. Hosted in the renowned Hamilton Gardens, it includes music, theatre and film.
  • Waikato Stadium128 Seddon Rd, Whitiora. The home stadium of the Chiefs (Super Rugby) and the Waikato Rugby Union (ITM Cup). A place to visit for fans of rugby union.

Festivals and events

  • January: Parachute music festival (discontinued after 2014), Festival One (from 2015), Summer in Garden Place
  • February: Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival, Couch Soup Festival of One-Act Plays
  • March: Waikato Food & Wine Festival
  • March: Soundscape
  • March: Indigo Festival
  • April: Waikato Show
  • April: Armageddon Expo Sci Fi & Comics Convention*
  • April: Balloons over Waikato hot air ballooning festival
  • April: 5 Bridges River Swim
  • April: Waikato Show
  • May: Hamilton Circle Jerk music event
  • June: National Agricultural Fieldays
  • June: Hamilton Fuel Festival
  • July: Soundscape
  • August: World Rally Championship
  • August: International Festival of Media, Arts and Design
  • August: International Film Festival
  • September: The Great Race
  • September: Hamilton Fringe Festival
  • September: Hamilton Underground Film Festival
  • November: Bridge to Bridge waterskiing event


Most of Hamilton's clubs are located with easy walking distance of each other, in the Victoria/Hood/Alexandra Street area.

  • Good Home, 27 Hood St. A great bar with a nice deck. Serves craft beer from many breweries from around the country.
  • The Outbackcnr Victoria & Hood Sts. A typical student bar and the main bar for the university orientation week.
  • Zone BarSkycity, Level 2, 346 Victoria St. The main sport bar in the city. Located in the Skycity casino building. Includes a deck with views over the river. Also on the same floor as a bowling alley and laser tag activities.

Safety in Hamilton


Very High / 9.5

Safety (Walking alone - day)

High / 7.9

Safety (Walking alone - night)


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