The Ultimate Food Guide to Hamilton
Looking for a destination where you can experience it all when it comes to New Zealand food? Hamilton is not a bad choice, being in the centre of a dairy farming region with its fair share of fruit orchards and vineyards. What’s more, the vibrant city is just a 1h30min drive from Auckland, making it all the more appealing for foodies visiting the country for just a short while. So taste the craft beers, the local wines, visit the artisans on a food and hiking tour and more in the city of Hamilton.
We’ll guide you through it all in this foodie guide to Hamilton.
Foodie Activities in Hamilton
- Embark on a hiking and food tour with Nature & Nosh
- Tour the Zealong Tea Estate
- Take a tour of Good George Brewing’s very own brewery
- Pick your own blueberries at Lavender Backyard Garden
- Spend Sunday morning at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market
- Do a wine tasting at the Vilagrad Winery
- Dine at one of Hamilton’s top restaurants.
For more details on each experience, see the 7 Things to Do in Hamilton for Foodies.
Food Tours and Experiences
Farming and food production is kind of what the Waikato region is all about, with Hamilton being at the centre of it all. One of the best comprehensive ways to experience the foodie side of the region is through a food and hiking tour with Nature & Nosh. Their Experience Waikato tour is an action-packed day of hiking to the North Island’s highest waterfall and the crystal clear Putaruru Blue Spring with local artisan food tastings in between. You’ll enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch, cheese tastings and wine tasting a local vineyard. Find out more about this tour on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Next on the itinerary, head to the Zealong Tea Estate to experience a guided tour of the plantation. Learn about the fascinating history of the first tea plantation of its kind being established outside of Asia and conclude with a ceremonial tea tasting. If your budget will allow, we also recommend upgrading to the high tea experience for Southeast Asian savouries, sweet cakey treats, and, of course, good tea.
In the city, be sure to try some New Zealand craft beer and a meal at Good George Brewing. Better yet, join them on a brewery tour to see how all of their beer, gin and cider are made. They’ll take you through the brewing process and even throw in a few surprises along the way. Allow up to an hour for the tours, which only take place at 5.30pm on weekdays and twice a day on weekends.
For more food-related experiences, check out the 7 Things to Do in Hamilton for Foodies.
The Best Restaurants in Hamilton
With so many diverse eateries to suit a range of styles, tastes and occasions, choosing the best restaurant in Hamilton is virtually impossible. Nevertheless, we have a few recommendations to please even the fussiest foodie.
Get the New Zealand vineyard experience at Vilagrad Winery (702 Rukuhia Road) a short drive from Hamilton. Sample their award-winning wines and sit down for a Mediterranean lunch on a Sunday.
For coffee, excellent cafes in Hamilton include Zenders Cafe & Venue (439 Ruakura Road) for Dutch-inspired treats. The River Kitchen (217 Victoria Street), which sits moments away from the Waikato River which inspires its name, serves up freshly-baked bread, scones, cakes and brioche. And for fresh bread, coffee and a general lunch fix to-go, choose the bakery Volare (6 Garden Place).
Take your tastebuds around the world with restaurants, such as Agenda (237 Victoria Street) serving contemporary New Zealand cuisine with a French twist. Babaganush (379 – 381 Grey Street) is the go-to for Middle-eastern eats, while Chim Thai (111 Thomas Road Unit 9) is a popular choice for Thai cuisine.
For much more recommendations, check out the fine dining restaurants in The Luxury Guide to Hamilton and our most romantic picks in The Honeymoon Guide to Hamilton. You can also find some cheap eats in The Guide to Hamilton on a Budget.
Alternative Things to Do in Hamilton
Hamilton’s foodie scene might be pretty darn good, but there’s more to the city than munching on local produce and taking tours to the best food places. Some other activities you might want to fill your itinerary with include:
- Visiting the Hamilton Gardens
- Learning something new at the Waikato Museum
- Cycling alongside the Waikato River
- Cruising on the Waikato River
- Shopping in the malls and laneways
- Seeing vintage cars at the Classics Museum
And much more! Check out the 10 Great Things to Do in Hamilton for more information on each activity.