Hiking is incredibly popular here in New Zealand, and we often have visitors staying at our Hamilton motel who make it their mission to complete at least one hike in every city or town they visit. While our city is relatively flat, we’ve got plenty of great hikes to try out in the hills and countryside that surrounds. Here, we’ve rounded up the top five best hikes near Hamilton based on popularity, accessibility and reviews from our guests.
Hakarimata Summit Track
This hike kicks off in the outskirts of Ngaruawahia, about 25 minutes away from our Hamilton motel. While the Department of Conservation calls it an ‘easy’ track, it’s worth keeping in mind that the summit is 335 metres high and there are 1349 steps to climb. But if you’ve got a moderate level of fitness and are keen to try out hikes around Hamilton, please don’t let the steps put you off! Rumour has it that some people even run the track for fun. When you reach the top after about one and a half to two hours, you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views across the Waikato Basin and all the way down to Mt Ruapehu on a clear day. The Hakarimata Summit Track is a must if you’ve got a few hours spare and are after cheap things to do in Hamilton.
Nikau Walk, Kaniwhaniwha
The Nikau walk can be found near the small township of Pirongia. From our Hamilton motel, you’ll drive for half an hour on State Highway 3 and then Te Pahi Road until you reach the Pirongia Forest Park / Kaniwhaniwha Reserve. The Nikau Track is a three-hour return walk and there are lots of highlights to enjoy. It’s a great choice for hikes around Hamilton that come with a side of adventure—the Kaniwhaniwha Caves are located near the start of the Bell Track, 5 minutes from the junction with the Nikau Walk, so take a torch and explore them while you’re here. On your seven-kilometre walk, you’ll follow a trickling stream around a loop surrounded by lush green with nikau palms, ferns and plenty of birdlife.
Wairere Falls, Okauia
It’s a bit of a drive out to Okauia—just under an hour to be exact—but it’s worth the trip if you love a good waterfall! Wairere Falls is actually the highest waterfall in the North Island, sitting at 153 metres high. The walk to the viewing platform at the base of the falls take around an hour and a half, but it’s a lovely walk through the cool bush and over little wooden bridges. If you’ve still got energy when you arrive at the base, you can spend another 30-45 minutes climbing to the top of the falls which will give you epic views over the valley and the Waikato Plains.
Hamilton Lake Domain
Ok, so it doesn’t strictly fall under the best hikes near Hamilton, but Hamilton Lake Domain is still a great place for a long, leisurely walk in the fresh air. It’s perfect if you have kids, a pram or require a smooth and flat surface for wheelchair access. The path around Hamilton Lake Domain is almost four kilometres long and you’ll enjoy watching the birdlife in the area including ducks, Pukeko and geese. If you’re there are the right time, you might even be lucky enough to see little ducklings or goslings on the lake. Cheap things to do in Hamilton don’t come much better than this!
When staying in a new city, especially for just a short time, it’s well worth researching the most
popular attractions to make sure you get the best out of your visit. Our list of the four must-do
things to do in New Plymouth has something that will appeal to everyone - couples, families with
children and those travelling solo…
As far as New Plymouth attractions go, Mt Taranaki has to be at the top of the list! For those who
are used to seeing mountains as part of a group or within huge stretches of alps, the conical Mt
Taranaki standing solo near the coast almost looks surreal. Ski season on Mt Taranaki is at
Manganui ski field from around June to October—and at only $50 per person it’s among the
cheapest in the country. And if you’re looking for places to visit in New Plymouth outside of these
months, Mt Taranaki and the surrounding Mt Egmont National Park still have plenty to offer…
Stroll through the lush Pukeiti Gardens, chase nearby waterfalls and explore more hiking tracks
than you can shake a walking pole at.
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre
You can’t drive past the building that houses the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre
without doing a double-take, but there’s so much more to be seen inside. Behind the shimmering
mirrored façade lies a collection of contemporary art including film, sculpture, painting and
photography. An entire wing is dedicated to the work of local artist Len Lye—the legend behind the
famous Wind Wand on the Coastal Walkway. The major exhibitions change out every four months,
so it’s one of those things to do in New Plymouth that you can experience more than once and
enjoy something new and different every time. Bonus: It’s just a couple of doors down from our
New Plymouth motel!
Todd Energy Aquatic Centre
The Todd Energy Aquatic Centre is one of the best places to visit in New Plymouth if you have
children or you’re looking something to do on a rainy day. Kids will have hours of fun zooming
down the hydroslides and frolicking in the wave pool. There are also inflatable toys, tarzan ropes
and a toddler pool indoors—and a diving board, picnic areas and a playground outside. When
you’ve had enough of swimming, relax in the spa pool or hit the sauna for a good sweat session.
And if you really want to burn some energy, you can leave the car behind… The Todd Energy
Aquatic Centre is only a ten-minute walk from our New Plymouth motel.
Looking for more New Plymouth attractions that cater to children? Well, what child (or adult)
doesn’t love watching cute animals go about their daily business? The animals at Brooklands Zoo
are mainly of the lovable and furry variety.. Think meerkats, squirrel monkeys and friendly
farmyard animals. There’s also a playground on site and a delicious ice cream shop to sustain you
as you browse the exhibits. Entry to the zoo is free but if you can make a donation, you’d be
supporting a very good cause! The Zoo rehabilitates injured or orphaned native and protected
birds and has on-site breeding programmes for their cotton-top tamarins and capuchin monkeys.
New Plymouth is one of those great cities where the best things to do are free! The unique natural
surrounds play a big part in this; personally, we think that all the best free things to do in New
Plymouth are in the outdoors. So if it’s a cold day, just make sure you rug up for your Taranaki
activities. And if you need any more tips or ideas, just come and see us at the Bella Vista New
Plymouth Motel reception – we’re always happy to help!
The New Plymouth Coastal Walkway is so good that it has won countless awards for its
functionality and innovation. The 10 kilometre-long walk and cycle path passes through farmland
and along the coastline, offering incredible views of rugged rocks, powerful waves and the striking
Mt Taranaki looming in the distance. The walkway is home to the famous Len Lye Wind Wand—a
48 metre sculpture that bends with the wind and is lit up in the evenings. In fact, seeing the Wind
Wand is one of the best free things to do in New Plymouth in its own right. If you’re short on time,
skip straight to the middle section of the walkway to check out the New Plymouth icon*.
If you’re an avid surfer, you’ll know all about New Plymouth’s reputation for great breaks. Surfers
flock to New Plymouth from all over the country to experience the waves—and it’s not just Fitzroy
Beach in the city where you’ll find swarms of surfers. There’s Back Beach, Kumera Patch, the
Rockies and Stent Road too. Or travel a bit further to Oakura or Ahu Ahu for some more great
spots. You can hire a board if you didn’t come prepared or take a surf lessons if you’re just starting
out. Anyone who has been lucky enough to experience the surf here on a good day will tell you it’s
definitely one of the best New Plymouth things to do!
Pukekura Park is one of the best free things to do in New Plymouth for families. In prime position
in the middle of New Plymouth, Pukekura Park is a lush 52-hectare space featuring lakes,
gardens, playgrounds and more. It’s a great place for children to burn some energy—they’ll love
running over the arched bridges, spotting different wildlife and barreling down the flying fox. There
are also other New Plymouth activities hosted here intermittently throughout the year – concerts,
sporting events, festivals and art installations. We suggest checking the events calendar regularly
to see if there are any Pukekura Park activities in New Plymouth that coincide with your visit.
Egmont National Park
We know it’s not technically in New Plymouth, but it’s so close that it definitely deserves a mention
in our list of free activities in New Plymouth. Egmont National Park is where you’ll find the
spectacular Mt Taranaki. Experienced hikers can make their way to the top and there are
kilometres upon kilometres of other walks for less ambitious explorers to wander.There are 13
entrances to the national park, eight huts to sleep in and hundreds of photo opportunities—from
roaring waterfalls to quiet swamps and dense rainforest.
*The Len Lye Wind Wand is being removed for maintenance in 2021 and is expected to be back in place by
If you’re spending time in New Plymouth, be sure to make time to experience the city’s lively
dining scene. The relatively small CBD means that most of the top restaurants in New Plymouth
are in walking distance, and at Bella Vista Motel we’re lucky enough to be just steps away from
one of the very best places to eat in New Plymouth! Which one is it? Read on to find out…
This popular CBD eatery has a five-star rating on Tripadvisor, making it one the the best places to
eat in New Plymouth based on hundreds of customer reviews. Locals and visitors have nothing
but good things to say about the outstanding service and the authenticity of the delicious South
Indian cuisine. The dishes hail from the Kerala region where strong spices and plenty of coconut
deliver flavours that are powerful, unique and oh so more-ish. And the menu has plenty of dishes
where veggies, lentils and cheeses are the hero ingredient, making Arranged Marriage one of the
best restaurants in New Plymouth for vegetarians.
Social Kitchen has quickly grown to become of the the top restaurants in New Plymouth, and a
quick look at their Instagram page will have you instantly sold. The moody pictures showcase
immaculately presented dishes and a warm, luxurious atmosphere accentuated by a roaring
charcoal oven. True to its name, the cuisine at the award-winning bistro is all about sharing. Each
plate offers a delightful fusion of flavour with elements that intrigue—salted fennel, beer mustard
and bone marrow butter to name a few. Social Kitchen is just a five-minute walk from our New
Plymouth motel, so we recommend taking the opportunity to try a couple of their tasty cocktails
while you’re there.
Our New Plymouth motel is lucky enough to have the wonderful Monica’s Eatery right next door!
And this one is our top pick for daytime delights. Open from 6.30am on during the week and
7.30am on weekends, Monica’s is one of the best restaurants in New Plymouth if you’re looking
for creative, substantial meal to enjoy in a light-filled setting. The menu offers sweet and savoury
dishes with some exciting twists… Enjoy your oats with peaches, chocolate and coconut cream or
opt for eggs with hummus, zucchini and olives. And for lunch, you’ll find far more interesting
choices than predictable burgers and steaks. There’s a selection of flatbreads, pastas, seafood
and tasty vegetarian dishes—there’s something for everyone at this top restaurant in New
The Federal Store & Bakehouse
All the New Plymouth locals know about The Federal Store—it’s one of those hard-to-find places
where the cabinet food is equally as good as the dine-in meals. The Federal Store is one of the
best places to eat in New Plymouth if you’re looking for a fun and quirky vibe. There are retro
tables with mismatched chairs and those tomato-shaped sauce bottles that’ll make you nostalgic
for decades passed. The Federal Store is a five-minute drive from our New Plymouth
accommodation and the ideal place to pick up some tasty food if you’re planning a beachside
picnic or a road trip up the coast.