Hamilton, New Zealand (3/27 – 3/28)

A Real Life Fantasyland in Hamilton, New Zealand

Unfortunately, our New Zealand adventure had to come to a close. Our last destination was Auckland, New Zealand (just an overnight stay prior to a morning flight back to Australia) but we stopped in Hamilton on the way from Rotorua (1.5 hour drive).


Why Travel to Hamilton, New Zealand and How Long to Stay?

Hamilton Gardens are gorgeous and well worth the visit. However, this experience was all we did on our trip. There are a couple of other things to do (see “things to do next time”) that can keep you here for a bit longer or you could use Hamilton as a base for exploring several other destinations. However, we were happy that we chose Rotorua and Taupo as our bases, both because of all there is to see at each of these locations but also their proximity to day trips. In our opinion, we were happy with keeping Hamilton as a one-day stopover.


Top Thing to Do in Hamilton, New Zealand

Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton Gardens is a huge collection of gardens spanning over 50 hectares which celebrates gardening over 5 distinct zones:

  1. The Paradise Garden Collection : Depicts gardening styles from different eras from China, England, Japan, America, Italy and India. 
The following are pictures from the ITALIAN RENAISSANCE GARDENs

2. The Productive Garden Collection : Is more about function than beauty and includes an herb garden, a kitchen garden, and a sustainable backyard garden. 


This garden demonstrates pre-Maori horticulture traditions, which are closely related to spiritual beliefs. Which is why you will see many carved symbolic ancestral figures.

The Sustainable Backyard Garden

3. The Cultivar Garden Collection : Includes areas devoted to roses, camellias, rhododendrons, and Victorian garden flowers. 

4. The Fantasy Garden Collection : Is devoted to more imaginative gardens such as the Tudor Garden which contains statues of beasts on green and white striped poles or the Surrealist Garden which uses strange shapes, unusual materials, and distortions of scale to “play” with your mind. 


Intricate knot garden

Tudor garden is surrounded by symbolic mythical beasts which portray sixteenth century English aristocracy crests.

A Dragon holding a shield of Queen Elizabeth I 
A Sea Serpent holding the shield of Sir Walter Raleigh (North Carolina’s capital city is named after him)
A Griffin holding a shield of King Henry VIII, the most well-known of all the British monarchs
A Centaur holding a shield of Sir Thomas More (Lord Chancellor of England)
Alice in Wonderland “Tea Party” bronze sculpture
In the background are a land of giant mechanically moving trees

5. The Landscape Garden Collection : Includes (amongst others) the Bussaco Woodland trail and the Valley Walk. 

If you are lucky you may also be at the gardens during an event or festival which typically occur during the summer months or the Garden Arts Festival which takes place in February. 

Hamilton Gardens 101: Entry is free

You can also visit Hamilton Gardens official website for what exhibits are most enjoyable during different times of the year.


Other Recommendations of Things to Do

We were unable to do a walk along the Waikato River, or travel to Waitomo Caves. However, we did stop in Hobbiton, Rotorua, and Taupo separately as part of our New Zealand itinerary. You can click on the locations below and explore the top things to do if you are traveling from the Hamilton region.

  1. Waikato River – The Waikato River is New Zealand’s longest river, and it offers an array of activities. You can access the River from Hamilton as it is just over 30 minutes away. Some of the many activities range from white river rafting, kayaking, riverside walks and so much more.
  2. Hamilton can be used as a good base to travel to other destinations
    • Waitomo Glowworm Caves(1 hour drive) Waitomo is famous for its Glowworm Caves and Black Water Rafting. Imagine thousands of glow worms lighting up the cave as you are drifting along the river.
    • Hobbiton (1 hour drive) – A.K.A the “Shire” in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies (which if I have to explain further, what are you doing with your life?).
    • Rotorua (1.75 hour drive) – A geothermal city with white-river rafting and Hobbiton all just a stone throw’s away
    • Taupo (2.25 hour drive) – Trek through the unique landscape of New Zealand’s North Island Volcanic Zone.


Question For You

  • Our favorite gardens at Hamilton Gardens was the Paradise Garden Collection. Which one was your favorite?



    1. Thanks Paul. Isn’t it such a lovely place?! There are many symbolic meanings represented throughout each garden and it was a very insightful experience. We would go again because they added more gardens since our visit. Glad you added Hamilton to your list! Not many know about it. 🙂


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