Family Activities in Hamilton
Base yourself in the North Island’s central hub and you’ve found the easiest way to explore the highlights of the Waikato region with a family. Hobbiton, the Waitomo Caves and other major highlights are all on the cards for families who stay in the vibrant city of Hamilton. Meanwhile, in the city, there’s a wealth of outdoor and all-weather activities to entertain the whole family, from picturesque gardens to exciting entertainment centres. So fill up your family trip to the city with these exciting things to do in Hamilton with kids!
For more advice, check out The Guide to Hamilton for Families and find a place to stay in the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Hamilton.
1. See the Native Birds at Sanctuary Mountain
Enjoy an educational experience at Sanctuary Mountain (Mt Maungatautari), a wildlife sanctuary protected by a state-of-the-art predator-proof fence. This protected forest is an excellent place to see and learn about New Zealand’s native birds either through a self-guided walk, through the guided walks or see the “living dinosaur” the tuatara on the tuatara enclosure tour. Find out more on Viator or Tripadvisor.
Location: Tari Road, Pukeatua, approximately 55km (34 miles) from Hamilton city centre.
2. Burn Off Some Energy at the Taitua Arboretum
Stick to your travel budget while keeping the whole family entertained with this free thing to do in Hamilton with kids. Taitua Arboretum is a fantastic place to let the kids run around and burn some energy. There are various-length walks throughout the arboretum of mature trees, lakes, gardens and picnic spots, some that are even suitable for strollers.
Location: Taitua Road, Temple View, approximately 11km (7 miles) from Hamilton city centre.
3. Explore the Labyrinth of Gardens at the Hamilton Gardens
Another excellent free thing to do, Hamilton Gardens is one of the most renowned gardens in the country. Kids will have a blast exploring the array of different-themed gardens. There is a garden-themed playground on-site, as well as activity sheets for kids that you can pick up from the gift shop. If you want to delve deeper into the history and stories behind the gardens, there are also guided tours available. Find out more about the guided tour on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Hungerford Crescent, approximately 3km (2 miles) from Hamilton city centre.
4. Take a Trip to the Hobbiton Movie Set
For families who enjoy a little fantasy, be sure to check out the Hobbiton Movie Set. See the home of Bilbo Baggins and enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon Tavern on a two-hour guided tour. The stroller-friendly pathway around the set and short duration are ideal for young families. Check out our How to Get the Best Hobbiton Discount if you plan to visit independently. Otherwise, there are some fantastic guided tours to the set with transport included from Hamilton, such as with Headfirst Travel (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Clem and Judy Richards (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Location: Buckland Road, Matamata, approximately 46km (29 miles) from Hamilton city centre.
5. Delve into the Glowworm Caves of Waitomo
A trip to the Waitomo Caves is a New Zealand must-do, with some great options for families, including the Ruakuri Cave (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) walking tour, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves (on Viator and Tripadvisor) walking and boat tour, and the CaveWorld tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor) through the stunning Footwhistle glowworm cave. There’s so much to cover on this popular area of New Zealand, so be sure to check out The Guide to Waitomo for Families to plan your trip.
Location: Waitomo, approximately 70km (43 miles) from Hamilton city centre.
6. Learn Something New at the Waikato Museum
Curious children of all ages will have a blast at the all-weather activity, the Waikato Museum. Located in Hamilton city centre, the museum’s ever-changing exhibitions always include something engaging for the kids, whether it’s about the Maori culture or New Zealand’s unique wildlife. The Exscite science gallery is full of interactive displays that will have kids engaged for hours. Most of the museum is free, but special exhibitions like Esxscite have a small fee. For more activities like this, check out the 10 Things to Do in Hamilton on a Rainy Day.
Location: 1 Grantham Street, Hamilton city centre.
7. Go for a Walk and a Coffee Beside Hamilton Lake
Circumvent some or all of Hamilton Lake on the Hamilton Lake Domain Walkway. The 3.8km (2.4-mile) stroller-friendly walk takes you through a number of intriguing landscapes. Venture through lakeside vegetation, grassy parklands ideal for a picnic, over boardwalks, past various playgrounds and to a cafe. Look out for ducks, geese, pukeko and other birds along the way.
Location: Ruakiwi Road or Lake Cresent, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Hamilton city centre.
8. Play Tenpin Bowling at SkyCity Hamilton
Found yourself on a rainy day in Hamilton? Head to SkyCity Hamilton, an indoor entertainment centre which features Hamilton’s only tenpin bowling alley. Enjoy the views of the Waikato River from the deck and try out some of the other games while you’re there, such as arcade games, air hockey or pool tables. When it’s time to refuel, there are a few restaurants in the complex too, the best for families being Eat Burger.
Location: 346 Victoria Street, Hamilton city centre.
9. Do the Mt Pirongia Mangakara Nature Walk
Just 30km (19 miles) out of Hamilton, the walks of Mt Pirongi are a great place for the family to connect with nature. Walk among lush native forest on the Mangakara Nature Walk, an easy track among some of New Zealand’s largest species of trees and over the Mangakara stream. The one-hour loop walk has educational signs to describe the history and interesting facts about the mountain.
Location: Grey Road, Pirongia Forest Park, approximately 30km (19 miles) from Hamilton city centre.
10. Tackle the Climbing Walls at Extreme Edge
Finally, another rainy day saviour in Hamilton, Extreme Edge is an indoor climbing complex with climbing walls for adults and children alike. The fun-themed kid’s zone climbing walls have more than 30 different challenges to tackle. The climbing walls are suitable for kids aged three years and up of all fitness levels. Kids can enjoy independent climbing (but still must be supervised by an adult) with the special belay system that takes in the slack as you climb up and then lowers you gently to the ground.
Location: 90 Greenwood St, Frankton, approximately 3km (2 miles) from Hamilton city centre.