The largest city in the Waikato region is Hamilton, with a population of over 141,000, New Zealand's fourth largest city, about an hour and a half drive south of Auckland.
The city is home to some of the most spectacular gardens in the country, including the internationally award-winning Hamilton Gardens, an internationally recognized zoo, one of New Zealand's largest aquatic centers, and world-class international sports stadiums and event facilities. Extensive lanes and cycle paths connect our residential areas to the beautiful Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river, which flows through the city. Hamilton's southern tip is home to an artistic and cultural precinct, with inspiring exhibits at the Waikato Museum, music and theatre, and an impressive selection of award-winning cafes, bars and restaurants.
Hamilton's proximity to the ports of Auckland and Tauranga, close access to two airports (Auckland and Hamilton) and strategic location on the road and rail networks offer significant export and import opportunities.
Before European settlement, Waikato was densely populated by Maori. Today Hamilton is diverse, home to more than 80 ethnic groups. It is also a relatively young city, with around half of its inhabitants under 30 years of age.
economy and industry
Dairy and agricultural biotechnology boost Waikato's economy, supported by thoroughbred horse breeding and training, forestry and coal mining. Fonterra, the world leader in dairy products, is headquartered here in Hamilton and hosts the National Agricultural Fieldays, the largest agricultural fair in the southern hemisphere. Many of New Zealand's leading agroscience research facilities are located in Waikato, and R&D is a major contributor to the economy. The electric fence and overhead topcoat are just two of the innovations coming from the region. Education is another important sector, including a large university, a faculty of teachers, a hospital of technical institutes, and training of nurses.
The Waikato region is mild and temperate with moderate rainfall. The maximum daily temperatures in Hamilton range from 22-26°C in January and February and 10-15°C in July and August. Occasionally, summer temperatures reach 28°C, while on clear winter mornings temperatures can drop as low as -3°C. Low altitude areas experience regular morning fog.
The Waikato district offers a quiet and relaxed life. Rural tranquility and views of land and bush are becoming increasingly popular for the lifestyle. In contrast, Hamilton City is vibrant and diverse. It has some of the most spectacular gardens in the country, one of our largest aquatic centers, an internationally recognized zoo, world-class sports and event facilities, and an extensive network of walkways and cycle paths connected to the Waikato River. Around Hamilton Airport is a vibrant aviation community that includes pilot training and aviation maintenance organizations. There is a lively social scene, with many cafes, bars and restaurants, and the city hosts a number of landmark events, including the Waikato Balloons and the Grand Gallagher Race. On the coast, Raglan is a mecca for surfers, and along the river fishing and boating are popular.