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What Car Would Best Suit a Day Trip From Hamilton?

day trips from hamilton

Planning to explore Hamilton? There is no better way to check out some of the city's best driving journeys than in a rental car. If you are a fan of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, be sure to visit Hobbiton Movie Set or if surfing is your passion, then Raglan is the perfect place for you. Best known for its amazing underground wonders, rolling green hills, award-winning eateries, and vibrant nightlife, do yourself a favour and see why Hamilton is a dream destination.


waitomo glowworm caves in new zealand

Recommended car: Hire a premium SUV such as a Mitsubishi Pajero or Toyota Prado. It has plenty of room for passengers and luggage. Booking an SUV is a perfect option if you want a more comfortable ride.

Travel time: 1 hour

Top attractions: Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Aranui Cave, Ruakuri Cave, Waitomo Great Walk, Pureora Timber Trail, Museum of Caves.

Home to spectacular sightseeing attractions, no visit to the Waikato region is complete without a visit to the iconic Waitomo Glowworm Caves. For an equally amazing cave experience, the two lesser-known caves, Ruakuri and Aranui, are also worth checking out. Enjoy rock climbing and abseiling, or feel an adrenaline rush as you try black water rafting. On the way back, make sure to visit Otarahonga and their famous Kiwi House and Native Bird Park, if you want to discover some of the country's unique and native wildlife.

Tips: Renting a car is the easiest way to get here and also means you can quickly experience the surrounding area. Please note that free parking is available next to the Waitomo Caves Visitor Centre and Legendary Black Water Rafting Co.

Directions: From Hamilton, head southeast on Anglesea St toward Ward St and follow signs for Route 1/Route 3. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto State Highway 37 to reach Hamilton.


waikato region from mt pirongia with sanctuary mountain

Recommended Car: Rent a compact car like a Toyota Corolla Hatch or Suzuki Swift. This type of vehicle is a smart choice for a short road trip with a small group of family or friends.

Travel time: 30 minutes

Top attractions: Lake Te Koutu, Cambridge Farmers' Market, Cambridge Museum, Maungakawa Scenic Reserve.

Blessed with beautiful trees and gardens, Cambridge is known as a horse-breeding and racing town. Explore the Cambridge Museum as well as the heritage buildings for a feel of yesteryear. Fondly called as the town of champions, Cambridge has two stunning waterways – the Waikato River and Lake Karapiro with swimming, cruising, and fishing within minutes of the town centre. Also worth checking out is the sanctuary mountain Maungatautari, which is just a 15-minute drive from Maungatautari Road.

Tips: Driving in New Zealand may take longer than expected because of their winding roads. Use a GPS to find out driving times while planning your journey. It's also recommended to fill your fuel tank when it is half full so there is no risk of running out of fuel.

Directions: Only half an hour drive from Hamilton, visitors should follow signs for State Highway 1. Take the exit toward Cambridge W and continue onto Cambridge Road/Thermal Explorer Highway.

Hobbiton and Te Aroha

bilbo baggins home and hobbit garden in hobbiton movie set

Recommended Car: Rent a compact car like a Toyota Corolla Hatch or Suzuki Swift. This type of vehicle is a smart choice for a short road trip with a small group of family or friends.

Travel time: 45 minutes

Top attractions: Hobbiton Movie Set, Green Dragon Inn, Te Aroha Domain, Mount Te Aroha, Mokena Geyser.

Find the most impressive private farmland near Matamata, where you can visit the Hobbiton Movie Set. With more than 40 unique hobbit holes, including the double arched bridge and the famous Green Dragon Inn, this is a place like no other. Discover why Hobbits as seen in the film always return to the Shire at the end of the trilogies. Get enchanted with the Alexander family sheep farm and witness the submerged Hobbit Holes that litter the rolling hillsides. Only a short drive to Hobbiton Movie Set, not to be missed when you visit Te Aroha are the Te Aroha Museum, Hauraki Rail Trail, Te Arona Domain, and the Mokena Geyser (the only hot soda water geyser in the world).

Tips: Take note that Hobbiton Movie Set is only accessible via guided tour. Be sure to book in advance with HobbitonTours if you want to experience the magic of Hobbiton.

Directions: Head south through Matamata in your hire car towards Cambridge to get into Hobbiton. Te Aroha is only a 45-minute drive from Hamilton.


raglan surf beach

Recommended car: If road trip safety is your number one priority as well as space and practicality, an intermediate SUV is perfect for you. A vehicle such as the Toyota Rav 4 or Mazda CX-5 will make your drive a whole lot more comfortable.

Travel time: 40 minutes

Top attractions: Bridal Veil Falls, Raglan Horse Treks, Raglan Walking trails, Raglan Rock, Mt Karioi.

Raglan is the pure definition of a laid-back surf town with its long stretches of beach and epic waves. A favourite destination for surfers, you can get a surfing lesson at Manu Bay or swim along Ngarunui Beach. You can even cruise aboard the Wahinemoe during sunset and experience the Raglan Harbour. Only 15 minutes' drive from Raglan, the spectacular Bridal Veil Falls, is another must-see attraction. Before doing any walks in New Zealand, it is always important to be aware of the weather. Make sure to tell someone your plans, even if you are only heading out for a short trip.

Tips: Be aware that Hamilton & Waikato Tourism recommend checking with the Department of Conservation before taking your pet on any of the trails in the region.

Directions: Note that the Bridal Veil Falls are signposted from State Highway 23, between Te Uku and Raglan. Access is via Te Mata Road off the Hamilton/Raglan Highway (SH23). Make sure to turn left into Kawhia Road, 1 km past Te Mata and travel another 4 km to the car park.

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