The famous Mooloo cowbells will be ringing at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton when The British & Irish Lions take on Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs on 20 June as part of their 2017 series.
The Waikato region has a proud rugby history and the Chiefs boast a number of current All Blacks including Sam Cane and Aaron Cruden.
The Chiefs faithful are enthusiastic rugby supporters and are known to loudly rattle their cowbells during a game of rugby wherever their side travels adding to the atmosphere of the stadium. There is nothing quite like the chorus of a packed Waikato Stadium colloquially known as Rugby Park.
Home of Hobbits
Matamata, in the Waikato region, is well known for the Hobbiton Movie Set, created for the Sir Peter Jackson directed The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.
This permanent movie set sits in the rolling hills of a working farm, with knowledgeable guides running movie tours daily. The hobbit holes and pristine gardens are a delight, while the Green Dragon Inn - a replica of the inn used in The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - is the perfect place to enjoy a locally-brewed beer (from Good George Brewery) and light refreshment.
Shine a light
Just an hour’s drive from Hamilton are the world-renowned Waitomo Caves. These caves are an ancient wonderland of stalactites, stalagmites, deep caverns, and underground streams bathed in the ethereal light of millions of glow worms.
Walking cave tours and an underground boat-trip can be experienced at the caves, one of New Zealand's original and most famous tourist attractions. Adventure-seekers can enjoy caving, rock-climbing, and abseiling.
Step back in time
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is a conservation project that is restoring a 3,400ha reserve to a pre-human state.
Protected by a 47km pest-proof fence, the largest of its kind in New Zealand, endangered native species such as kiwi, kaka, takahe and the giant weta thrive in their natural environment.
The reserve has well maintained walking tracks, a forest canopy tower and a forest overflowing with plentiful New Zealand wildlife. Guided and groups walks are also available.
Mighty Waikato River
The deep flowing waters of the mighty Waikato River - a major hydro-electricity source and New Zealand’s longest river - is the perfect setting for a leisurely boat cruise or kayaking excursion.
Hot air ballooning offers a different perspective on the region's green countryside and meandering waterways. Walking and cycling adventures taking in native bush, towering forests, flourishing dams, suspension bridges and wandering boardwalks can also be found.
Stop and smell the roses
Hamilton Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in the region. Spanning 58ha the gardens are arranged in themes and collections presenting a wide variety of garden styles from New Zealand and around the world - including Te Parapara - New Zealand’s first traditional Māori Garden.
Visitors can throw down a blanket and enjoy a picnic and a kick-about on the grass or have a bite to eat at the Hamilton Gardens café.
Waikato River, at 425km, is New Zealand's longest river.
Hamilton is New Zealand’s largest inland city.
On the northern bank of the Waikato River, Ngaruawahia is one of the Waikato's oldest settlements and a place of deep significance for Māori.
Turangawaewae marae is New Zealand's only royal residence - home to the reigning Māori monarch Te Arikuni Tuheita Paki.
An hour and a half south of Auckland, the growing city of Hamilton is situated on the banks of New Zealand’s longest river, the mighty Waikato.