The Waikato is a great place to be and because it's so central it's not far to drive to either coast. There's so much to do here. Find out what awaits you including 4 NZ Best Of's = Best beach, best surf spot, best glow worms and the world famous Hobbiton...
If you're coming from the last Lions match in Rotorua, your next leg of your motorhome journey will eventually take you to the city of Hamilton in the heart of the Waikato region and the North Islands rural community.
Game 6 Lions Vs The Waikato Chiefs 20th of June
The highly anticipated first Test against the All Blacks is in Auckland on the 27th, meaning you will finally have a bit more time to just enjoy the region without having to do the long drives. The Waikato region has lots to offer that are all easy day trips. We’ve picked four destinations that we think you will absolutely love...
1) Mt Maunganui
A short distance from Rotorua is a place the locals (Mounties) simply call 'The Mount'. The Mount is just an awesome spot to be any time of the year. It always has a real vibe about it and is also famous for having one of the best camping grounds in NZ which is right on the Mt Main beach and at the base of the famous Mt Mauao. It's not really a mountain but a small hill with several walking trails up and around it. A walk to the top is a must as the 360 views over the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga Harbour and Matakana Island are magnificent at any time of the day and year but even better again if you make it up for sunrise or sunset (count 30-40 minutes). Aerius Helicopters offers flights over Mount Maunganui as well as White Island helicopter tours which depart from Tauranga Airport in Mount Maunganui.
The Mount camping ground is attached to the Mount hot pools. Have a soak under the stars before you stroll into the Mount Township, known as ‘the strip’ where you will easily find many excellent restaurants and bars simply by walking up one side and down the other! For the local Irish pub look for the appropriately named Mount Mellick. There's always something on here and they serve good pub food, beers and also have live jam sessions.
One really good thing about being in the Mount is you don’t need to drive anywhere. It’s all there within walking distance for you and if you do want a bit of the city life you can always visit Tauranga City easily by bus or by taking the ferry across the harbour.
If surfing is your thing and the waves are on, hire a board and catch a ride!
Cambridge, "The Town of Trees & Champions" is one of NZ’s biggest towns only 20km from Hamilton City.
Cambridge is NZs centre for Cycling, rowing and horse racing.
Cambridge would be an excellent choice to use as a base for all your motorhome exploring as its big enough to find decent restaurants, bars and shops but quiet enough to relax in.
There are plenty of activities and day trips within proximity
Here are some ideas....
Rural - Take a tour around a dairy farm, or a deer stud farm, or visit a famous thoroughbred stud that has produced some of the world’s finest racehorses. To book a rural tour check out Rural Tours.co.nz
Get Native - A chance to see NZ as it once was at Sanctuary Mountain which keeps safe many ecological and cultural treasures thanks to its predator free fencing, the longest in the southern hemisphere. You can see much of NZ’s protected wildlife in their natural habitat here.
Get On The River - Paddleboarding, kayaking and jet boating or fish Lake Karapiro, or the nearby streams,
Get On Your Bike - Two of New Zealand’s greatest cycle-ways thread alongside the Waikato River. The Great Te Awa River Ride and the Waikato River Trails or if track cycling is your thing check out one of the world’s fastest tracks, the Avantidrome. Bikes are available to hire from the Cambridge Information Centre
Where to stay in a motorhome in Cambridge
Low budget - Freedom camping outside of, but not far from Cambridge, is a definite possibility. There are many spots around Lake Karapiro that self contained vehicles may stay at for free. Basic toilet facilities are available.
For a full list their locations, reviews and more visit RankersNZ
Lake Karapiro is one of the most sheltered spots in NZ which is why it also happens to be home to NZ’s rowing and several of NZ's rowing champions have trained here.
Motor Parks - If you want to stay closer to town there is only motor park in Cambridge. The Cambridge Motor Park offers full facilities.
Rural Stays - As another option you could try a rural farm stay and there is a comprehensive list of information here Rural Farm Stays Many farms will also let you simply park your motorhome on their land and let you freedom camp there but make sure your motorhome is self contained.
Day trips out of Hamilton and Cambridge
If you are stopping in Cambridge or Hamilton there are some unmissable motorhome day trips you should try and do.
Hobbiton Movie Set - A popular destination just a short motorhome drive away. Experience the real Middle-earth and the lush pastures of the Shire as seen in the Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Take the fully guided tour which concludes with an exclusive Hobbit Southfarthing beverage in the famous Green Dragon Inn. The inn has been fully reconstructed, both inside and out, to give you the opportunity to enjoy the pub in all its splendour. It’s sure to be a trip to a pub you will never forget! Find out full information here
3) Waitomo Caves and Otorohonga Kiwi House
The Waitomo caves coming from the Maori words Wai – Water, and Tomo – Hole. The Caves are without doubt at the very top of the #NZMustDo list. It doesn’t matter what age you are the beauty of these caves will take your breath away. There are all sorts of visits available above and below the ground. Chose from walking or boat tours to the more adventurous black water rafting experience where you’ll crawl, swim and float through caves on a rubber tube or an abseil zip-line adventure. For a full list of activities and tours check out The Waitomo Caves website
If you suffer from claustrophobia, don’t worry, there is much to experience above ground as there is below with many beautiful walks, waterfalls, bridges and the Waitomo Caves Museum to visit and not far away in little Otorohonga you will find one of the best places to view real life Kiwi's - The birds not the people or the fruit :)
Otorohonga Kiwi House
New Zealand has a large number of endemic species of birds. For a chance to see the famous Kiwi, NZ’s National Icon as well as other a rare birds you will never see again in any other county visit the Otorohonga Kiwi House. It’s well worth while and there is plenty of space to park your motorhome
4) Raglan (NZ's Surf Magnet)
Raglan is NZ’s surfing Mecca with a stunning coastline, and black sand beaches. The town itself is very chilled and an awesome spot to eat lunch and take a coffee. There are many artists and musicians that have made Raglan their home and it’s easy to find live music at one of the many pubs and bars. If you fall in love with Raglan and don’t want to leave (which is very likely to happen) the camping ground, like Mt Maunganui, is superbly located and a great place to park the motorhome. You have easy access to the beach and an easy walk into town over the famous Raglan footbridge.
Hamilton - Game 6 Lions vs Chiefs
What to do in Hamilton? Where to eat, drink and party!
Hamilton is vibrant city on the banks of the Waikato River which means it's somewhere you can take a peaceful stroll in an urban setting. Try the Hamilton River Walk. Hamilton is famous for its agricultural field days, hot air balloon festival – ‘Balloons Over Waikato’ and has a rich sporting history. It hosts many international cricket and rugby matches. The one you’re concerned with of course, is the Lions VS Chiefs’.
The Lions don’t have fond memories of playing against the Waikato, in 1993 they were outwitted and outplayed here last time and ended up losing 38 -10... Will they be able to show an improvement this July?
Thanks to its younger population and university students Hamilton has a great nightlife with many decent bars, clubs and pubs and also a casino. For a list of the top ten click here. If you like craft beer the personal recommendation amongst these top ten is absolutely the GOOD GEORGE . Try these guys for awesome food and good strong delicious craft beer and cider as well as tasty low alcohol beverages’ a literal piss up in a brewery. Take a look for yourself! - check out the list of NZ’s most awesome craft beers
Where to park your motorhome in Hamilton and how to get to and from the stadium.
If you want safe and secure parking for your Motorhome, that’s close to Hamilton’s FMG stadium try Whitiora School and Beetham Park shown on the map.
However if you plan to have a beer or two at the game (which naturally we’d be expecting you to do) and plan to leave your motorhome in your camping ground you can easily catch either a FREE bus or a Taxi to and from the game. Buses leave from Hood St outside the Knox St car park approx every 10 minutes from an hour before kickoff and travel via Victoria, Ulster and Abbotsford streets to the Stadium.
If you want to stay in the city itself the only motorhome holiday park is Hamilton City Holiday Park
NOT TO MISS - Did you know that the City of Hamilton is intrinsically linked to the Rocky Horror Picture Show?...
Victoria St is the main St of Hamilton and at 200 Victoria St stands a statue of the iconic Riff Raff character from the cult status movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Riff Raff was gifted to the city of Hamilton to commemorate the links between the city and Richard O'Brien, creator of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Stay tuned for our next blog - All Blacks Vs Lions at Eden Park Auckland