Surfing mecca, and Olympic heroes

Scott Styris
Beaches, world-famous movie sets, award-winning gardens - a visit to Hamilton will keep you busy and amazed

Riverside strolls
Enjoy the stunning view of the beautiful Waikato River with a walk along its riverside. It's the largest river in the country and there are trails that stretch for many kilometres. The riverside trails make for a great leisurely stroll, a decent run, or even a lengthy cycle - if you're wanting to do something when the cricket's not on.

Raglan road trip
Raglan and its beach is a must for all surfing enthusiasts. You can find Raglan by driving 30 to 40 minutes out of Hamilton, and you won't be disappointed. The beach has three world-class point breaks, including Manu Bay. Locals say it's the longest left-hand ride anywhere in the world. While you are based in Hamilton, a day trip out to Raglan is one of the best day trips around. If you're not a surfer, you can check out the black sand that lines the beach.

A mystical journey
Another great day excursion is the set of the world-famous Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Hobbiton is based out of Matamata, which is another 40-minute drive from Hamilton. It really is a fascinating look at how sets are made for Hollywood movies and it's a must-do for any movie buff.

Floral fascination
If movie sets and beach trips aren't your thing, then check out our Hamilton Gardens. "The Story of the Gardens through different civilisations and time" is an exceptionally beautiful and unique experience. The gardens were awarded the International Garden of the Year for 2014, showing it really is a world-class venue here in Hamilton.

See where Olympic champions develop
The town of Cambridge is a 20-minute drive from Hamilton. It's home to many of New Zealand's high-performance cyclists, while Lake Karapiro plays host to a number of our champion rowers. Based on a traditional English village, Cambridge is the centre of all things horse-racing, with 13 Melbourne Cup winners bred there. Aside from playing host to many of our Olympic stars, Cambridge is certainly one of the more beautiful parts of the Waikato region.

As told to Matiu Workman

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