Guide12 hours Hamilton
Lovers of sport, great food and wine are all part of a population of people who have a palpable sense of loyalty to their city, and with plenty to be proud of it’s no wonder they have made Hamilton their home.
The neatest things to see, eat and do.
Join the growing throngs of visitors who know Hamilton is much more than meets the eye. A place where quirky cafés and world-class eateries are popping up in every alley, it’s worth taking the time to explore.
As the sun rises you best get yourself dressed and out the door, Hamilton’s finest breakfast spots are calling…
Breakfast at Hayes Common
33 Jellicoe Drive, Hamilton East
In the hip hub of East Hamilton overlooking the river, Hayes Common is known for waking up the township on the right side of the bed with fresh, locally-sourced morning fare and beautifully brewed Atomic Coffee. Settle into a comfy corner or pull up a chair at their family-sized tables and eye up their seasonal menu, bursting with top quality free-range produce. Whatever will it be… Baked pancakes with lime curd and burnt pineapple? Smashed Edamame and Avocado Bruschetta? There’s even a whole menu dedicated to vegan folk. This place does it all – and does it well.
Ice Cream at Duck Island then a visit to Hamilton Gardens
300a Grey Street, Hamilton East
It’s lucky there’s no such thing as being too full – or it being too early – for ice cream. Stroll north along the river and, would you look at that – you’ve ended up at Hamilton’s best icy treat store. Duck Island has grown quickly to smashing success and are renowned for their imaginative flavours including Boysenberry Cheesecake, Sweetcorn + Blueberry Jam and Banana Brûlée + Ginger Caramel Swirl.
It’s always nice to wander while you contemplate not getting ice cream on your fingers, so meander on down to Hamilton Gardens which have been sitting pretty since 1960. The ‘Paradise collection’ of international gardens is a favourite among visitors, and feels like a trip through five countries in an afternoon.
Shopping at Lovegrove Lane
394 Grey Street, Hamilton East
Thought that was all the East had to offer? Nah! There’s a whole heap of good stuff going on in this hood. You must check out Lovegrove Lane, an upmarket alleyway where boutique businesses sit side by side and offer you everything from yoga classes to freshly pressed juice. After a framing service or a bunch of pretty florals? Framing House and The Flower Crate have you covered.
Lunch anyone? Hamilton’s hospo scene is just too good to let a mealtime go by. Especially when you’re a hop or two away from one of the town’s tastiest little gems...
Lovegrove Lane 6/394 Grey Street, Hamilton East
One look at GG’s cabinet will convince your stomach that yes – it’s definitely hungry again. Making a home in Lovegrove Lane’s sixth and final shed, this cosy café is humming with good vibes aplenty. Decorated with 70s nicknacks that will leave you reminiscing over your family bach, GG’s are well known for their chocolate lamingtons, delicious savoury scones, flavour-packed toasties and hearty soups.
If an afternoon pick-me-up is in order, then Hamilton continues to provide the goods. Spend the later part of the day ticking off those earlier town sights you missed in the morning.
Coffee at Rocket Coffee Roasters
302 Barton Street
We hear you, we hear you, all that wandering through awe-inspiring greenery can leave you feeling a little fatigued, so why not pop back over to Hamilton Central and have yourself a caffeine pick me up from the people who know a quality coffee when they see one, Rocket Coffee Roasters. Open till 4:00pm, you best make it before the doors closed for a chance to see them roasting the very coffee you’re drinking.
Needle in the Hay
300 Barton Street
Ever tried to find a needle in a stack of hay? No neither have we, but we get the point. Lucky we’re here to tell you exactly where this little store filled with eccentric arts, crafts, homewares and records is so you needn’t get lost along the way. Happy to tread its own path, Needle in the Hay is a clever shop full of rad goods where you just might be pleasantly surprised by what you can find.
Clothing shopping at Sisters on London
61 London Street
Just down the road a bit from Needle in the Hay, pop into Sisters on London, a designer clothing store stocking brands from around the globe, as well as clever designs from our very own shores too. Aptly named, the boutique was established by sisters Julie and Claire in 2008, whose love of fashion and individuality led them to opening a boutique where other locals could visit, be impressed and perhaps leave with a little more self-confidence thanks to a new styley wardrobe.
Clothing shopping at True
302 Barton Street, Waikato
Continue the clothes shopping at True, a beautifully curated store on Hamilton's Barton Street. True’s range of lovely, ethical European labels are carefully laid out and arranged to help you curate your look with timeless style. Not forgetting New Zealand labels, Ingrid Starnes soaps and candles are for sale, as well as a range of accessories that may provide you with the finishing touches you’ve been looking for.
15 Hood Street
Late afternoon means it’s about time for a cold one, and what better place than Craft, a bar that prides itself on having no less than fifteen beers on tap. If you’ve timed it well, don’t pass up the Three Beer Thursday on from 4:00 – 7:00pm where you’ll get three new beers for $15.
Culture at Waikato Museum
1 Grantham Street
What’s a visit to a new city without checking out the local museum? Hamilton is not short on history, and you can find out all about it at the Waikato Museum (Te Whare Taonga o Waikato). Wander around the thirteen galleries and be amazed by one of the museum’s major highlights - the 200-year-old waka taua (war canoe) Te Winika, which was gifted to the museum by the late Maori Queen.
In a city reluctant to go to sleep, you need only visit one of these evening establishments to see why locals choose to stay up late.
Dinner at Riverbank Lane
298 Victoria Street, New Zealand
A place to meet, eat and drink, Riverbank Lane is home to a number of bespoke businesses that offer a perfect transition from boutique browsing to dinnertime. Before tucking into a feed, you could sharpen up with a trim at Fox & Kennedy Barbers. Fancy a few page turners? The towering shelves at Browsers should keep you occupied. The cocktail list (and pro bartenders) at Mr Pickle’s will pull your nose out of the books and onto their patio to enjoy your favourite tipple overlooking a phenomenal riverside sunset. Stay on here for a dinner of BYO (that’s build your own) charcuterie platters and small and large plates to share or head to their neighbours, Banh Mi Caphe, for a hit of punchy Southeast Asian flavours.
Night cap at Wonder Horse
236 Victoria Street
Don’t call it a night just yet! On the same street is Wonderhorse, an establishment at the heart of Hamilton’s night scene, with amazing service, a whole lot of soul and a menu of magnificent cocktails. The place for good chats, group hangs or after dinner drinks, and open to the public from Wednesday till Saturday every week, wind down your night here in the intimate two-story loft.