What makes the city of Hamilton, situated on the country’s North Island, so attractive for the visitor is its modernity combined with ancient Maori culture. The city was built on the site of a collection of Maori villages and 20 minutes’ drive away is the town of Ngaruawahia, home to the King Movement of the Maoris. The Waikato Museum fields a collection of over 38,000 taonga or Maori objects. In the month of February, the Kawhia Kai annual festival of Maori food takes place, about one hours’ drive away.
The beautiful natural environment of the city converges in Hamilton Gardens, a public park situated between the bank of the Waikato River and State Highway 1. Visitors to the Gardens can enjoy a collection of over 23 themed areas with names like “herb garden” and “Victorian flower garden.” Hamilton Zoo, on Brymer Road in the suburb of Rotokauri, covers over 25 hectares and many of its exhibits are unique. Its aviary is one of the largest free-flight areas in the southern hemisphere, housing birds native to New Zealand. The Rainforest Walk includes primates from Asia, Africa and South America. Visitors to Hamilton can enjoy musical entertainment at the Founders Theatre and at the Clarence Street Theatre.
Hamilton has a moderate climate, with an average daily temperature of 18.4 degrees Celsius in January and 9 degrees in July. This makes the city suitable for year-round visiting, with plenty of events taking place. The Festival One in January with performances of Christian music, takes place at the Mystery Creek Events Centre. The National Agricultural Fieldays takes place at the same venue in June, and is an agricultural trade show that attracts over 115,000 visitors. The Couch Soup Festival of One-Act Plays in February will delight drama lovers, while in August, Hamilton plays host to titles that are part of the New Zealand International Film Festivals. The traveller can avail of the cheapest flights between February and June, when pupils return to all New Zealand state schools. Flight prices are highest from December to late January.
These same services are available to the visitor throughout his stay, either to travel around the city or to tour one of the beautiful districts that surround it. Visitors can save money by opting for a shared ride with other passengers, or travel privately and pay the full fare. Within the city, there is an extensive bus network for local travel, and a network of cycle paths for travelling in the open air.