As the hub for the region, Hamilton makes a good base for exploring the Waikato region and its cluster of modest sights. Heading south from Auckland, the first place of real interest is the important Maori town of Ngaruawahia, though if you are headed for Raglan you may skip Ngaruawahia and follow the back roads past Waingaro Hot Springs. Art-lovers will want to nip east to the Wallace Gallery while Hobbit fans shouldn’t miss Hobbiton, on the outskirts of Matamata. Southeast of Hamilton, Cambridge and Tirau are really just waystations on the route to Taupo, while to the south, Te Awamutu celebrates its Maori, Pakeha and Finn brothers heritage.

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