Au­tum­nal Ex­plo­ration

Au­tumn is the per­fect time to ex­plore the Hamilton and Waikato re­gion

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From beau­ti­ful gar­dens and un­der­ground won­ders, to Mid­dle-earth movie magic, gourmet de­lights and much more – check out the must do au­tumn ac­tiv­i­ties in Hamilton & Waikato.

Hamilton Gar­dens

Im­merse your­self in the colours of au­tumn with a stroll around the Hamilton Gar­dens. Telling the story of gar­dens through time, the award-win­ning Hamilton Gar­dens is wrapped in au­tum­nal colours at this time of year, pro­vid­ing an even more pic­turesque scene as you stroll through the likes of the Ital­ian Re­nais­sance gar­den, Chi­nese Scholar gar­den, Te Para­para gar­den and In­dian Char Bar gar­den just to name a few. The Hamilton Gar­dens also of­fers an abun­dance of great pic­nic spots. Bring your own, or or­der a gourmet pic­nic from the Hamilton Gar­dens Café, which comes com­plete with a pic­nic blan­ket, so you can pick your favourite spot and en­joy. Those with chil­dren can also take ad­van­tage of the free kid’s ac­tiv­ity sheet avail­able from the in­for­ma­tion cen­tre.

Mid­dle-earth

If the Shire is at the heart of Mid­dle- earth, then the Hamilton and Waikato re­gion is at the heart of the Shire. When scout­ing around for set­tings for his epic three movie adap­ta­tion of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hob­bit, Kiwi direc­tor Peter Jack­son found

just what he was look­ing for in the green rolling pad­docks, rugged lime­stone out­crops and un­der­ground cav­erns of the Hamilton & Waikato re­gion.

Visi­tors to Hob­biton Movie Set to­day can take a tour of the per­ma­nent set, past over 44 Hob­bit Holes, in­clud­ing Bag End, hear all about how the set was cre­ated, and behind the scenes sto­ries from film­ing, be­fore end­ing the tour with a re­fresh­ing south­far­thing bev­er­age from The Green Dragon Inn, also on set. The magic of the set will en­gross ev­ery­one from avid fans to those who have never seen the films or read the books.

Fur­ther south, near Pio­pio, Hairy Feet Wait­omo also of­fers Mid­dle-earth tours, with a tour through the film­ing lo­ca­tion for the Troll­shaw For­est as seen in The Hob­bit: An Un­ex­pected Jour­ney.

Un­der­ground won­ders

Mil­lions of years in the mak­ing, the Wait­omo Caves is a must visit NZ at­trac­tion year-round. Those with a sense of ad­ven­ture will en­joy the ab­seil­ing, zi­plin­ing and black water raft­ing tours on of­fer, whilst easy walk­ing tours and boat rides un­der a gal­axy of glow­worms are per­fect for young fam­i­lies or those look­ing for a gen­tler trip. High­lights of the Wait­omo area in­clude the 100m ab­seil into the Lost World Cave with Wait­omo Ad­ven­tures and the world-fa­mous Wait­omo Glow­worm Caves. Above ground has just as much to of­fer with great short walks in­clud­ing the Marokopa Falls and Man­gapo­hue Nat­u­ral Bridge, farm shows, clas­sic kiwi BBQ din­ing and more.

Gourmet De­lights

The Hamilton and Waikato re­gion holds its own when it comes to its foodie de­lights, which is no sur­prise with the va­ri­ety of fresh lo­cal pro­duce on hand. Check out the farmer’s mar­ket on ev­ery week­end for ev­ery­thing from honey and gar­den greens to fresh bak­ing, fish and more, all lo­cally sourced. For a gourmet ex­pe­ri­ence the re­gion boasts some top award win­ning cafes and restau­rants from the likes of Vic­to­ria St Bistro and Palate to Skycity Hamilton’s City Co-Op space, which has ev­ery­thing from Span­ish tapas to burg­ers. While you’re here be sure to seek out the hid­den foodie gems such as Restau­rant on Alma at Novo­tel Tainui Hamilton, lo­cal cof­fee roast­ers like Rocket Cof­fee or Raglan Roast or NZ’s only tea plan­ta­tion, Zea­long Tea Es­tate, which of­fers high-tea and a tea cer­e­mony ex­pe­ri­ence at their on­site café.

Cy­cle Trails

With three of the NZ Great rides in the Waikato, there is plenty of op­por­tu­nity to work off the gourmet treats. The Tim­ber Trail of­fers 85km of off road trails through the Pure­ora For­est Park fol­low­ing a his­toric log­ging tramway, cross­ing sev­eral im­pres­sive swing bridges along the way; The Waikato River Trails fol­lows the mighty Waikato River for 100km, tak­ing in swing bridges and hy­dro dams; The Hau­raki Rail trail pro­vides an eas­ier ride tak­ing in the gold min­ing his­tory of the area; whilst the wide flat Te Awa River ride is per­fect for groups and those with young chil­dren. Se­ri­ous moun­tain bik­ers are also catered for with parks such as Te Miro, Cougar Moun­tain Bike Park, Hamilton Moun­tain Bike Park and Raglan’s new Te Ara Kakariki Trail all on of­fer.

Walks

Au­tumn is also per­fect for mak­ing the most of the great out­doors – be­fore the win­ter weather sets in. Take a stroll through Sanc­tu­ary Moun­tain Maun­gatau­tari, NZ’s only in­land eco­log­i­cal re­serve, and you’ll likely spot some cheeky Kaka at the im­pres­sive canopy view­ing tower. For those with a bit of pa­tience, check out the wet­lands at Sanc­tu­ary Moun­tain and you might just spot the elu­sive Tu­atara bask­ing in the sun­shine. If you are look­ing for a chal­lenge, join the lo­cals tak­ing on the stairs on the way up the Hakari­mata Sum­mit Track – the view from the top is worth it. Im­pres­sive wa­ter­falls are also abound with the likes of Wairere Falls near Mata­mata or Bri­dal Veil Falls near Raglan, while the Te Wai­hou Walk­way and Blue Spring is also not to be missed.

Hamilton City pro­vides the per­fect base for ex­plor­ing the re­gion, with a va­ri­ety of ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions avail­able in­clud­ing Ibis Tainui Hamilton, Sudima Hamilton, Ven­tura Inn and many more. Plus, with Hamilton Air­port of­fer­ing di­rect daily flights to and from most ma­jor NZ ci­ties, flying to Hamilton is a con­ve­nient and easy op­tion.

For great things to see and do in Hamilton & Waikato this au­tumn and be­yond, visit www.hamil­ton­waikato.com

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