By Alistair Guthrie
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Exciting places to visit in the Waikato include Hamilton, our fourth largest city, Hobbiton Movie Set, the surfing hub of Raglan, and the Waitomo Caves.
The city of Hamilton is nestled on the banks of the mighty Waikato River and is known for its walks, gardens, cafes and nightlife.
Matamata - home of the shire and a must see if you’re a Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fan. Take a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set and enjoy the town’s fabulous cafes.
In Raglan you can catch a wave or sip a great espresso. This lively surf town has an interesting creative culture and a wonderful choice of cafés.
Cambridge is ‘the town of trees and champions’. It’s memorable for its leafy streets, heritage buildings, antique shops and thoroughbred horse studs.
New Zealand's premier rowing venue, Lake Karapiro, is a man-made lake on the Waikato River just six kilometres south east of Cambridge.
The rural township of Pirongia sits at the foot of Mount Pirongia, and makes a good base for explorations into the native forest.
Between November and April, it’s time to stop and smell the roses in Te Awamutu. This rural town has the ideal climate for fabulous blooms.
Under the green hills of Waitomo lies a labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The area's name comes from the Maori words wai (water) and tomo (hole).
Otorohanga is New Zealand’s self-made ‘kiwiana’ town. Main street murals and displays explain some of the country’s most significant cultural icons.
Just 20 minutes from Waitomo, Te Kuiti hosts the New Zealand Shearing Championships. This annual event is held the weekend after Easter.
If low tide is late afternoon, Kawhia’s hot water beach offers the rare experience of soaking in a sandy spa pool while you watch the sun go down.
You can’t miss Tirau – just look for the large corrugated iron buildings constructed to look like a sheep and a dog. This town is a little quirky!
Down to earth is a good way to describe the timber town of Tokoroa. No pretensions here; just honest kiwi hospitality and lumberjack-sized meals.
Much of New Zealand’s bottled water comes from the Blue Springs in Putaruru. You can stroll to the springs along the riverside Te Waihou Walkway.
Piopio is perhaps best known for its role as a filming location in The Hobbit trilogy.
The perfect way to enjoy Te Aroha is to launch yourself on a hiking trail up the mountain, then recover with a long soak in a hot mineral pool.
Ngaruawahia is culturally significant for Maori of the Waikato region. It is the home of the Maori King and the magnificent Turangawaewae Marae.
The coal town of Huntly makes an interesting stop between Auckland and Hamilton. The area’s mining history is on display at the local museum.
Morrinsville has made a special feature of its history with the Morrin Museum, where you can inspect a 1870s pioneer cottage.
Check out what other travelers say about New Zealand on TripAdvisor.
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