Hamilton may not feature at the top of many lists of the best places to visit in New Zealand but if you’re into scenery and greenery than you might just want to include it as a stop in your next road trip because of the stunning and spectacular Hamilton Gardens, a world-class attraction on the banks of the Waikato River.

The most popular attraction in the Waikato

Image of Hamilton Gardens
Hamilton Gardens

With over 1 million visitors and 2,000 events a year, the Hamilton Gardens are the most popular attraction in the Waikato and is also the highest rated thing to do in Hamilton on TripAdvisor.

With 20+ themed gardens currently featuring at the gardens, it is one of the most comprehensive in the country. When you combine this with the fact that entry is free, you’ve got a lot of great reasons to plan a visit.

But just what exactly can you see at the gardens? We cover some of the highlights below.

The Italian Renaissance Garden

Hamilton Gardens - Italian Renaissance Garden
Image credit: https://hamiltongardens.co.nz/

A secluded arbour, a bench by a bubbling fountain – the Italian Renaissance Garden is the perfect place to slip into a daze as you watch the world go by. With its leafy trellises, hidden sculptures and square beds planted with colourful flowers it’s one of the most picturesque places there to appreciate.

The Japanese Garden of Contemplation

A stroll through the woods will take you to the spiritual Japanese Garden of Contemplation, the perfect place to experience simplicity and stillness as well as marvel at the complexity of design that has gone into creating a world so relaxing. It’s a great place to meditate and sit in silence listening to the wind through the trees.

The English Flower Garden

Hamilton Garden - English Garden
Image credit: https://hamiltongardens.co.nz/

The English Flower Garden, designed in the arts and crafts style, is the perfect setting for afternoon tea. Bring a picnic rug to lay on the beautifully manicured lawn, unpack your hamper and lie back to enjoy the peace and quiet with some tea and scones.

The English Rose Garden

For those who are romantically inclined, you can’t go past the English Rose Garden, the perfect place to enjoy a moment or two with your significant other. With a wide range of rose species present like the Malmaison Rose and the Peace Rose you’ll be swept up by the beauty of it all.

Te Parapara Garden

The Maori Garden is particularly interesting, with its display of indigenous plants and sculptures. Designed with careful planning and collaboration with the local Maori community, it tells the story of how agriculture began in New Zealand, first with traditional plants and later, by integrating the crops and practices of migrants.

It cleverly intertwines this with traditional myths and storytelling. The site was once used as a sacred site, associated with the harvest and agriculture.

The Sustainable Backyard and the Kitchen and Herb Gardens

Hamilton Gardens - Sustainable Backyard
Image credit: https://hamiltongardens.co.nz/

For those with culinary aspirations, you’ll want to take time to explore the Sustainable Backyard as well as the Kitchen and Herb Gardens.

The Sustainable Backyard is one that’s designed with sustainable principles demonstrating how a regular backyard can be transformed into a productive landscape. You’ll see chickens that are moved to different beds, a worm farm, composting and a range of fruit trees and vines.

The Kitchen and Herb Gardens are built according to the Victorian tradition and designed to provide inspiration for people who want to grow their own veg.

Visiting the Hamilton Gardens

We hope we’ve done enough to convince you to stop by the Gardens to experience and appreciate the attraction that it is. Words scarcely do it justice but we’re confident when you’re there in person, you’ll be nothing short of amazed.

The Hamilton Gardens are situated a few minutes’ drive from the centre of Hamilton on Cobham Drive State Highway 1. Parking is available through Gate 1 & 2 and is free!

*All images courtesy of Hamilton Gardens