Bounded by lush, verdant pastureland, cleaved in two by the majestic Waikato River, is Hamilton, New Zealand’s fourth-largest city. Hamilton lies at the heart of the fierce and proud Waikato region in the North Island, where the New Zealand Land Wars were fought and the Kingitanga (Maori King) movement was formed.
These days, more prosaically, the city forms New Zealand’s educational hub, and is one of its fastest-growing urban centers. The Waikato region has a strong agricultural heritage. Several high-profile businesses, such as Anchor, AgResearch and Gallagher Group, have emerged from the area. The city boasts booming dairy and biotech industries and is now home to no fewer than 9200 businesses. This thriving urban hub provides a lower-cost alternative to Auckland, which now ranks among the world’s top twenty most-expensive cities to live in. The city suffers very little traffic congestion and boasts a world-class mass transit system, including the country’s largest railway junction.
Fantastic live music venues, galleries, cafes and superb educational facilities combine to create a city living environment that oozes appeal. Beyond Hamilton’s borders, the Waikato region offers enviable lifestyle options for both young and mature professionals alike.
What is special or unique about your city?
With a rapidly growing population, Hamilton is New Zealand’s largest inland city and one of its greenest. Hamilton lies nestled in the heart of a rich farming region. It has a good climate, beautiful scenery, gorgeous rivers and lakes, a clean, green environment and top educational facilities.
Hamilton has a very prosperous business community.
Hamilton is a 90-minute drive from Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Drive west 30 minutes to find the lovely neighboring seaside town of Raglan, renowned for exceptional fishing and international surfing beaches. An hour east you will find the beautiful, white, sandy beaches of the east coast, offering a variety of water sport options such as swimming, sailing, fishing, water skiing and jet skiing.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Hamilton International Airport is only 15 minutes from downtown Hamilton. Upon arrival, you will be impressed with the beautiful greenness and lushness of the countryside. Hamilton’s prosperity comes from being in the center of the Waikato District, which is renowned for its rich farming and dairy land. Hamilton has all the benefits of a large city with the convenience and lifestyle of a small city. Commuting anywhere within the city boundary takes about 20 minutes.
Hamilton Gardens covers an area of 54 hectares and is the region’s most popular visitor attraction with over 600,000 visitors annually. Hamilton is also world famous for the NZ Agricultural Field days, an event held at Mystery Creek every year in June, drawing around 100,000 visitors over a four-day period.
In addition, Hamilton has an excellent zoo, two swimming complexes, seven golf courses, six libraries, the Waikato Museum of Art and History, a newly completed multi-event sports stadium and a casino. Hamilton also has some of the best shooting ranges in New Zealand, with pistol club facilities that are considered to be of international standard. Finally, Hamilton Lake is just two minutes by car from downtown Hamilton. Here, you'll find swans, a kiosk, a children’s playground, walking/jogging tracks around the lake and plenty of lovely picnic areas.
Are these impressions likely to change?
No, the impression will remain the same, down to the local aesthetics: strict building codes ensure that Hamilton's greenbelt and natural beauty will not change.
What is the local language?
English is the official language of New Zealand; however you will also hear Maori spoken, along with other languages from the South Pacific islands and Asia.
Here are a few Maori words that may be fun to learn as well as help you while you are here:
English = Maori
- hello = kia ora
- good bye = haere ra
- please = koa
- thank you = kia ora rawa atu
- good = ka pai
- bad = ka kino
- help = äwhinatia
- yes = äe
- no = käo
- food = kai
- water = wai
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
It would be difficult to live in New Zealand without speaking English, as most New Zealanders only speak English or Maori. There is a wide variety of English language schools throughout New Zealand.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
The main thing to remember is to respect the many diverse cultures in New Zealand. To avoid offending, please take note of the following:
- Casual dress is acceptable and usually preferred in most situations
- Do not use the "V for victory" sign as it is considered offensive
- Always try to be on time for appointments. Punctuality is considered good manners
- Afternoon tea is between 3:00p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Early evening tea is between 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and a larger meal is served. Supper is a snack served much later in the evening.
- Tipping is not common here
- Cover your mouth if you must yawn, do not chew gum or use toothpicks and please do not spit in public
- Ask permission before you attempt to photograph someone
- When meeting someone or departing, use a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact.
- Avoid confusing or comparing New Zealand to Australia, as they are two distinct countries.
- Remember that New Zealand has strict smoking rules, and smoking is not permitted in any public building or public transport
- Smoking is not permitted in any bars, cafes or restaurants, but smoking areas may be provided outside
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Hamilton has a temperate climate. Keep in mind that New Zealand seasons are reverse to those in the Northern Hemisphere. The warmest months are December, January and February while the coldest are June, July and August. Hamilton’s annual rainfall is 1189mm per annum.
In addition, because the Waikato River flows through the center of the city, some areas are subject to occasional fog. This usually clears by 9:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. and is usually followed by sunshine.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Hamilton City is an independent local body with a City Council made up of one Mayor and a body of elected councilors. The city encourages recycling and everyone has green recycling bins to put out for trash collection. Additionally, New Zealand has a high regard for its natural beauty and is extremely protective of the flora and fauna.