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Travel guide

31 Things to Do in Cambridge: Popular Tourist Activities and Attractions

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In this Article

Cambridge, New Zealand, is a beautiful town located in the Waipa District of the Waikato Region of the North Island. The town is charming, picturesque, and packed with choices for the most discerning visitor quietly slumber in the Waikato countryside.

There are plenty of things to do in Cambridge. Cambridge is pretty, and perhaps it’s the glorious mature deciduous trees or the glimmer of Lake Karapiro and the rolling hills.

There is the history of the place, 800 years and counting for historical buffs to wander through, natural wilderness areas where possums are defeated by the Great Wall of Sanctuary Mountain, and enough energetic sports activities to tire out any kid.

A great day trip from Hamilton or an excellent excuse for a short break from either Auckland or Wellington. Hamilton’s airport is a short 30 minutes drive making Cambridge very accessible and very tempting.

What is the Maori Name for Cambridge?

The name for Cambridge in Maori is ‘Kemureti.’ It was the second-largest region for the Maori population in New Zealand.

What to do in Cambridge – Highlights

Te Ara Wai Journeys, Waikato, New Zealand @Best Awards
Te Ara Wai Journeys @Best Awards
  • Te Ara Wai Journey, a digital mobile story while exploring Cambridge, was launched by Waipa District Council.
  • Lake Karapiro kayaking, either guided or self-guided.
  • Sanctuary Mountain, all things feathered in New Zealand. Come and experience for yourself the New Zealand environment the way it used to be – an ancient, vibrant pest-free forest alive with native wildlife, including many of New Zealand’s rarest and most endangered wildlife.
  • Tivoli Cinema a treat to sit with your wine, snacks, or a coffee from the in-house cafe and relax the old-fashioned way in a picture theatre.
  • Cambridge Museum is a year-round treat with personal stories of settlers, pre-European Maori life, and the growth of the district’s equine industry.

Fame

  • Being sporty is definitely a Waikato trait.
  • Mark Todd of equestrian fame with several Olympic medals.
  • Sarah Ulmer medalist in cycling.
  • Joelle King is a squash player with several significant wins under her belt.
  • Blanche Eleanor Carnachon, born in 1871, was an educator and pioneer of women’s rights to education. An avid supporter of public education.

Notoriety

  • War, brutality, and the loss of identity, the Waikato is witness to this universal theme of history. The confiscation of land The British took 1.2 million acres of Waikato land. Of this, 225,000 acres became “native reserves,” and 50,000 acres were repatriated to Maori ownership. About 150,000 acres were subdivided for military settlements, the remainder sold to pay for the war. See Travel Pack Section for further reading on the subject. The past should not be a forgotten country.
Mark Todd @Libby Law
Mark Todd @Libby Law

Things to do in Cambridge

@cambridgemuseum
@cambridgemuseum

Learn About the History of Cambridge at Cambridge Museum

Cambridge Museum is a lovely museum set in an old courthouse building with rose gardens surrounding it. Multiple displays at the museum focus on local heroes, early pioneering relics, and early Cambridge photographs of Māori and European settlers.

The museum’s goal is to bring people closer to the city by displaying a comprehensive collection of artefacts and records related to Cambridge’s history, districts, and people.

Visiting the Cambridge Museum is a great way to spend a rainy day in Cambridge. The museum is free to visit; however, donations are always welcome.

Walk the Duke Street Walk of Fame

Cambridge is the epicentre of high-performance sports. All of New Zealand’s gold medalists from Athens used to live in Cambridge.

Duke Street Walk of Fame is a tribute to the sporting legends that have made Cambridge their home. This street is lined with bronze plaques depicting prominent athletes from rowing to equestrian sports.

Also, a mural on Victoria Street (next to the blue ANZ bank) portrays all of the Melbourne Cup-winning horses raised near Cambridge.

Cambridge Museum garden mural, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge Museum garden mural
Cambridge St Andrews Anglican church, f avourie for weddings, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge St Andrews Anglican church

Visit St Andrews Church

St Andrews Church is a beautiful historic building that should not be missed when visiting Cambridge. It’s well-known for its stunning set of war memorial windows. The church, which was completed in 1881, is one of the town’s oldest structures.

The church is open to the public from Monday to Friday, 09:00 am to 01:00 pm.

Play a Round of Golf at Cambridge Golf Club

Cambridge Golf Club is one of the oldest golf clubs in the Waikato region, established in the 1900s. The club is located just five minutes from the town centre and has a challenging 18-hole course.

Cambridge Golf Club is open to the public, and visitors are always welcome. Green fees are very reasonable, and club hire is available. The golf club also offers golf lessons for beginners. Cambridge Golf Club hosts a number of tournaments throughout the year, so there’s always something going on.

Cambridge Golf Club also has a bar and lounge area where you can relax after your game and enjoy stunning views of the golf course.

@CambridgeGolfNZ
@CambridgeGolfNZ
@TeAwaTheGreatNZRiverRide
@TeAwaTheGreatNZRiverRide

Take a Ride on One of the Many Cycle Tracks

Cambridge is blessed with an extensive network of cycleways and is widely regarded as New Zealand’s home of cycling. From tracks through native bush and riverside paths to the dedicated velodrome and bike parks, Cambridge has something for everyone.

Here are just a few of the great cycle tracks Cambridge has to offer:

  • Kaipaki Mystery Creek Route

Distance: 34 Kilometers

Grade: 1

  • Rev 60 Route

Distance: 61 Kilometers

Grade: 2

  • Double Loop Route

Distance: 62 Kilometers

Grade: 3

  • Rev 100 Route

Distance: 104 Kilometers

Grade: 3

  • Hobbiton Movie Set Route

Distance: 95 Kilometers

Grade: 4

@TeAwaTheGreatNZRiverRide
@TeAwaTheGreatNZRiverRide
@TeAwaTheGreatNZRiverRide
@TeAwaTheGreatNZRiverRide

One of the town’s most popular cycling routes is the Te Awa River Ride. This gorgeous river ride takes you through rural and urban environments, stopping at waterfalls, historic Maori sites, modern stores, cafes, and wineries. You can learn more about the track in our Te Awa Ride guide.

Cambridge also has a fantastic BMX track, which hosts the BMX National Championships. The track at the Cambridge BMX Club is one of the greatest in New Zealand, with a pro and amateur course.

Enjoy Mountain Biking at Te Miro Mountain Bike Park

Cambridge is home to one of the best mountain bike parks in New Zealand, Te Miro Mountain Bike Park. It is built and maintained by a local Cambridge mountain biking group, Te Miro MTB Club.

The park has something for everyone with a variety of trails ranging from easy to expert. There are also plenty of jumps and berms for those looking for a bit more excitement.

Beginners should stick to the loop that circles the lake and starts at the main parking lot. Loops like “Gobblers Knob” and “Big Red” are suitable for intermediate riders. Loops like “Gloworm” and “Phillis Gold” should appeal to seasoned and experienced riders.

Click here for the full trail map.

@TeMiroMTBClub
@TeMiroMTBClub
@grassrootstrustvelodrome
@grassrootstrustvelodrome

Tour or Bike a Lap of the Grassroots Trust Velodrome

Want to ride a bike but not outdoors? Cambridge has you covered with the Grassroots Trust Velodrome. The velodrome is a covered, Olympic-standard cycling track that is open to the public for tours and riding sessions. The wooden track is 250 meters long and takes 15 minutes to ride a full lap.

Other facilities at the velodrome include a gym, a cafe, a bike shop, a playground and a bike skill park. The Grassroots Trust Velodrome organises a variety of racing events. Click here to check out the event calendar.

Take a Photography Tour With Capture New Zealand Photo Expeditions

Immerse yourself in the astounding landscapes of New Zealand with a photography tour led by Capture New Zealand Photo Expeditions.

During the tour, you’ll be accompanied by a professional photographer who will teach you how to get the most out of your camera and take stunning photos. With small group sizes, you’ll get plenty of individualised attention.

Phillip Bartlett, a self-taught professional photographer with over 20 years of expertise, leads the photography tours. Capture New Zealand Photo Expeditions has also teamed with a number of well-known foreign photographers and photo workshop companies, including US-based Visionary Wild.

@capturenewzealand
@capturenewzealand
Picturesque autumn panorama, Karapiro lake landscape, Waikato, New Zealand
Karapiro lake landscape

Go Kayaking on Lake Karapiro

Experience Cambridge from the water with a kayaking trip on Lake Karapiro. Boatshed Kayaks and Riverside Adventures are the two companies that offer kayak rentals and tours on Lake Karapiro.

Take a guided tour to Glowworm caves for a magical experience. If you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding (SUP).

Take a Jet Boat Tour on the Waikato River

Get your adrenaline pumping with a jet boat tour on the mighty Waikato River. Camjet offers a variety of tours ranging in length from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.

During the tour, you’ll speed down the river, taking in the scenic views of the surrounding farmland and native bush. You’ll also get to experience 360-degree spins, high-speed turns, and other exciting manoeuvres. The 45-minute tour will take you all the way to the base of the Karapiro Dam.

We recommend booking a tour in advance as spaces fill up quickly, especially during summer.

@Jetboatwaikato
@Jetboatwaikato
@Jetboatwaikato
@Jetboatwaikato

Relax on a River Cruise

If jet boating is not your thing, Camjet offers a more relaxed river cruise option. This 60-minute cruise takes you upstream through the narrow Cambridge gorge, where you can see beautiful waterfalls, fish, and birdlife. You’ll also learn about the river’s history along the way. The cruise will also stop at the base of Karapiro Dam and the power station, where you can take a short walk to see the dam up close.

Explore Te Koo Utu Lake Domain

Te Koo Utu Lake Domain is a beautiful nature reserve located in Cambridge. The reserve is home to a variety of native plants and animals, including wetland birds, eels, fish, and ducks.

The lake is a popular hangout for locals. There is a 1-kilometre loop around this lake where you can stroll, run, or ride your bike. Due to its flat pathway, this loop is great for pushchairs and child pushbikes.

Several vantage points, water features, and gardens constructed around the lake provide plenty of opportunities for tourists to take in the scenery. This park also has a children’s playground and on-site barbecue facilities, making it ideal for a family day outing.

Lake Te Koo Utu, Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand @WaikatoNZ
Lake Te Koo Utu @WaikatoNZ

See Some of New Zealand’s Rarest Wildlife at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is a predator-free ecological island located just outside of Cambridge. The sanctuary is home to various endangered native plants and animals, including Kiwi, Tuatara, Takahe, and Kokako.

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari has three main visitors area –

New Zealand native Kaka parrot (Nestor meridionalis) perched on branch in rain forest of Kapiti island, Wellington, New Zealand
Kaka parrot

Southern Enclosure

Southern Enclosure offers some of the best bird-watching options on the mountain. It has a bird feeding area where tourists can observe the Kaka and other birds that come to feed. There is a fantastic 16-meter high tower called Canopy Tower, which offers stunning views of the surrounding forest.

Northern Enclosure

Northern Enclosure is a smaller section, yet it is extremely important because it is where conservation efforts began. The area shows off some of the mountain’s diverse biodiversity as well as gorgeous woodland streams. Walks in the Northern Enclosure last around 30 minutes to an hour. There’s also the 1.1-kilometre Te Ara Tirohia Loop Track (viewing platform).

Over the Mountain Walk

The final area for visitors is to take the Over the Mountain Walk. This walk offers spectacular views from Pukeatua Peak. The area is best suited to experienced trampers and will take around 5 to 6 hours to complete. If you are unfamiliar with the mountain, you should seek advice before embarking on this adventure.

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari also offers guided tours led by experienced guides. These tours are a great way to learn about the sanctuary and see some of the rarest wildlife in New Zealand. Click here to book a guided tour.

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari signage, Waikato, New Zealand
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari signage
Maungakawa Scenic Reserve, Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand @oakleyoriginals_nz
Maungakawa Scenic Reserve @oakleyoriginals_nz

Visit Maungakawa Scenic Reserve

Maungakawa Scenic Reserve is one of a few locations in Cambridge where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the natural surroundings. A wide range of native trees and plants can be found in reserve. The reserve is home to a variety of birdlife, so keep your eyes peeled.

Maungakawa Scenic Reserve features a 30-minute loop trek that takes you to the top of the hill. Along the way, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Cambridge countryside. The loop walk contains descriptive signs that tell you about the native trees along the way. The track is flat and suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

Take a Drive Down the Scenic Te Tapui Scenic Reserve

Te Tapui Scenic Reserve is a beautiful spot for nature lovers to enjoy the outdoors. The reserve is located 43 kilometres from Cambridge and will take around 40 minutes to drive there. Visiting Te Tapui Scenic Reserve is one of the best things to do near Cambridge.

The reserve is home to a variety of native plants and animals. You’ll find a lookout tower at the top of the hill that offers 360-degree views of the stunning Kaimai Ranges and the Firth of Thames.

Te Tapui Scenic Reserve also has a loop track called Te Tapui Loop Track. This track is 4 kilometres long and will take around 3 hours to complete. The track continues a short distance into the peaceful bush surroundings before breaking in two. The right way leads to the peak faster but involves a steady climb, whilst the left track is gentler but requires a longer walk.

Te Tapui Scenic Reserve, Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand @maverick_with_an_l
Te Tapui Scenic Reserve @maverick_with_an_l
Cambridge weekend farmers market, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge weekend farmers market

Check Out the Cambridge Farmers’ Market

Want an authentic Kiwi experience? Then head to the Cambridge Farmers’ Market, where you can find fresh produce grown by local farmers. The market is open every Saturday from 08:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Cambridge Farmers’ Market is located at Victoria Square, opposite the town clock at the corner of Victoria & Alpha Streets. The market is a great place to stock up on fresh produce and try some local food. You’ll find a variety of stalls selling fruit, vegetables, meat, honey, baked goods, coffee and more. Click here for a complete list of stallholders.

Visiting Cambridge Farmers’ Market is one of the best things to do in Cambridge NZ, on a Saturday morning.

Shop at Trash ‘N’ Treasure Market

For over 25 years, the Trash ‘N’ Treasure Market has been providing residents and visitors to Cambridge with a variety of products at bargain prices. Lions Club started the market after they noticed that there were not many options for shopping locally.

The market is held every Thursday and Saturday of the month from 09:00 am to 12:30 pm at Memorial Park. The market contains over 200 stalls selling items such as clothes, books, plants, furniture, etc.

The stalls are just not limited to Cambridge residents. Stallholders come from all around the North Island and sell a wide range of stuff, including handcrafted crafts, produce plants, pre-loved items, and collectables.

Trash ‘N’ Treasure Market is the perfect place to find a unique gift or souvenir to take home with you.

@lionsclubcambridge
@lionsclubcambridge
@Tamahere Country Market
@Tamahere Country Market

Visit Tamahere Country Market

Tamahere Country Market is an open-air market held on the third Saturday of every month. The market takes place at St Stephen’s Anglican Church and begins at 08:30 am and ends at 01:00 pm.

You’ll find stalls selling fresh produce, flowers, local wine, artisan food and drink, arts and crafts, jewellery, woodwork and more. The market is a great place to find locally made products and support Cambridge businesses.

Explore Blueberry Orchards at Monavale Blueberries

Monavale Blueberries is a family-owned and operated blueberry farm. The farm offers guided tours of the blueberry fields, explaining the history of the farm, how blueberries are grown, and how they are harvested. During the harvest season (late October till mid-April), the farm offers a unique experience to pick your own blueberries.

Monavale Blueberries also has a café where you can try blueberry-themed dishes such as blueberry pancakes, muffins, and blueberry ice cream. The café is open from 09:00 am to 04:30 pm.

@Monavale Blueberries Limited
@Monavale Blueberries Limited
Cambridge Dairy Farm, Waikato, New Zealand @cambridge
Cambridge Dairy Farm @cambridge

Go on a Farm Tour

If you’re looking to get off the city streets and experience Cambridge’s rural side, then why not go on a farm tour? Farm tours are a great way to learn about Cambridge’s agricultural history and experience authentic New Zealand farming.

Start with the Cambridge Dairy Farm Tour, where you’ll see cows being milked and learn about the dairy industry. Next, head to the Cambridge Deer Stud Tour, where you’ll learn about Cambridge’s deer farming industry and get up close to some of the animals.

Lastly, go on the Waikato Thoroughbred Stud Tour, where you’ll learn about Cambridge’s thoroughbred horseracing industry and see some of the world-famous racehorses.

Taste Some Cheese at Over the Moon Dairy

Over the Moon Dairy is Cambridge’s premier cheese shop. It has a deli located on Victoria Street, which stocks a wide range of local cheeses, as well as an array of other gourmet food items. You can even find gift baskets and wrapping options if you would like to purchase some of the cheese as a present.

All the cheese is made on-site at the Over the Moon Dairy farm using locally sourced milk. Over the Moon Dairy farm is located at Putaruru, which is 42 kilometres south of Cambridge. The farm offers guided tours which include a cheese tasting, as well as the opportunity to see the cheese-making process.

@overthemoondairy
@overthemoondairy
@HeritageGalleryNZ
@HeritageGalleryNZ

Admire Some Local Art at Cambridge’s Art Galleries

Cambridge is home to a number of art galleries, each with its own unique style and flair. If you’re looking for things to do on a rainy day in Cambridge, then a visit to one of the town’s art galleries is a great option. These galleries are excellent for picking up a one-of-a-kind souvenir or gift for a loved one back home.

Here are some of our favourites:

Visit TreeChurch and Gardens

TreeChurch is a living chapel made entirely of trees and placed in beautiful gardens. It is located 18 kilometres from Cambridge, in the hamlet of Ohaupo.

Visitors are welcome to explore the grounds and gardens, which feature a variety of native plants and flowers. The chapel is also available for weddings and other special events.

Please note that the garden is closed during the winter (May- September).

@church.tree
@church.tree
Moondance Manor Gardens, Waikato, New Zealand @Gardens to visit
Moondance Manor Gardens @Gardens to visit

Stroll Through Moondance Manor Garden

Moondance Manor is a picturesque garden on the banks of the beautiful Waikato River. It is located between Hamilton and Cambridge, just off State Highway One.

Moondance Manor Garden is a haven for those who love flowers and nature. Flowers like hellebores, fox gloves, primrose, iris, hyacinths, geraniums, lilies, roses, camellias, magnolias, hydrangeas, rhododendrons and wisteria can be found blooming throughout the property.

Moondance Manor garden is open to the public from October to May.

Discover Some Unique Sculptures at The Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum

The Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum is a one-of-a-kind outdoor gallery featuring a collection of contemporary sculptures. The sculptures are placed amongst the native bush and gardens of the arboretum, providing a unique setting for each piece.

The park has a 2-kilometre walking track that takes you past each sculpture. It is open every day from 10:00 am till 05:00 pm. Online booking is recommended.

The Sculpture Park and Waitakaruru Arboretum, Waikato, New Zealand @Cambridge
The Sculpture Park and Waitakaruru Arboretum @Cambridge
Waikato river trail, Arapuni swing bridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Arapuni swing bridge

Take a Walk on the Arapuni Swing Bridge

Arapuni Swing Bridge is one of the longest suspension footbridges in New Zealand, with an impressive height of 152 meters. It was built in the 1920s to provide access to the Arapuni hydroelectric power station.

The bridge is now open to the public and has become a popular tourist attraction. It provides stunning views of the Arapuni Dam, the Waikato River as well as farmland that surrounds it.

Visit Waipuke Park

Waipuke Park is a 40-hectare regional park located 15 kilometres from Cambridge. The park sits next to a lake inlet with 30 hectares on an upper terrace and 10 hectares on a lower terrace. The lower terrace borders Lake Karāpiro and includes a spacious beach.

Waipuke Park is an excellent place for a picnic, a game of cricket or frisbee, or just relaxing and enjoying the stunning views. The park is also popular with walkers, runners and cyclists. You can even go for a swim or kayaking in the lake.

Waipuke Park, Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand @Waipā District Council
Waipuke Park @Waipā District Council
Blue Spring which is located at Te Waihou Walkway, New Zealand
Blue Spring

Take a Walk Through Te Waihou Walkway and Blue Spring

Head out on the Te Waihou Walkway to one of the world’s purest water sources, Blue Spring. In fact, the water at Blue Spring is so pure that it is bottled and sold around New Zealand. Te Waihou Walkway is located 45 kilometres from Cambridge.

Te Waihou Walkway is 4.7 kilometres long, with a walking time of 1.5 hours on average (3 hours return). You’ll follow alongside the Waihou River and pass through wetland forests with rolling pasture land and small waterfalls before reaching Blue Spring.

The track ranges from easy walking to stile crossings in the backcountry. It has been benched in certain places, and steps have been built through the gorge section. Along the track, you may come across hazards, including waterfalls, electrified fences, and livestock.

Take a Tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set

Hobbiton Movie Set is one of Cambridge’s most popular tourist attractions. It is located on a family-run farm about 25 kilometres outside of Cambridge. The movie set was used in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.

A movie set tour will take you through the 12-acre site, where you’ll see 44 hobbit holes, Bag End, the Party Tree, and more. The tour lasts two hours and includes an exclusive Hobbit Southfarthing beverage at the Green Dragon Inn.

Hobbiton also offers a variety of unique events and guided tours throughout the year, including the Evening Banquet Tour, Mid-Winter Feast, Hobbiton Movie Set Beer Festival and Hobbiton Christmas Banquet. Click here to find out more about Hobbiton experiences.

Hobbiton Movie Set is open all year round, but tours must be booked in advance. A tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set is a must-do activity when visiting Cambridge.

@Hobbitontours
@Hobbitontours
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waikato, New Zealand
Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Take a Trip to Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Caves are one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations. The caves are located approximately 65 kilometres south of Cambridge.

Waitomo Caves are best known for their glowworm population. These tiny creatures emit a soft light that illuminates the cave’s interior and makes it seem like you’re looking at the stars in a clear night sky.

Follow our dedicated guide on Waitomo Caves for more information on this natural wonder.

Visit Wairere Falls

Wairere Falls is the tallest waterfall on the North Island, at a height of 153 metres. The falls are located 54 kilometres from Cambridge, which is about a 40-minute drive.

The best way to experience Wairere Falls is by taking the Wairere Falls Track. The track is 5 kilometres long and takes approximately three hours to complete (return). The track is suitable for experienced walkers only as it involves some steep sections. It’s also important to note that the track can be slippery in wet weather, so make sure you wear appropriate footwear.

The track starts at the car park and winds its way through large moss-covered rocks and tree roots, as well as little wooden bridges, before reaching a lookout point at the top of the falls. From here, you can take in the stunning views of Wairere Falls and Waikato Valley.

Bench seat for relaxation and rest at Wairoa Stream (Te Wairere) Waterfall hiking track, Kerikeri, Far North District, Northland, North Island, New Zealand, NZ
Wairere Waterfall

Where to Take the Best Selfie in Cambridge NZ

Vibrant yellow-orange leaves during autumn in Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Vibrant yellow-orange leaves during autumn in Cambridge
  • In the town of trees, find a glorious deciduous tree in the lush autumn beauty
  • Lake Karapiro
  • Sanctuary Mountain, where the wildlife reign
  • Quaint heritage buildings such as St Andrew’s Anglican church
  • Mare and foal statute on the main street, look for mosaic plaques in footpaths describing famous horses
  • Picturesque Cambridge Museum

Things to do With Kids in Cambridge

  • Te Ara Wai oral stories with cafes and the occasional ice cream to keep the energy flowing.
  • Playground and water sports at Lake Karapiro Mighty River Domain.
  • Cycle your way around Cambridge. Either bring your bike or hire wheels for the day.
  • Urban kids visit a working farm and find out where your milk and cheese come from.
  • Discover unique sculptures at the Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum.
  • Go kayaking, jet boating or relax on a cruise.
Cambridge Esquestarian sculpture near town hall, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge Esquestarian sculpture near town hall

Free Things to do in Cambridge NZ

Wairere Falls @getlostinnz
Wairere Falls @getlostinnz
  • Stroll around Cambridge town centre.
  • View artworks by local artists at one of Cambridge’s public art galleries.
  • Wander through some pretty gardens and parks.
  • Visit St Andrews Church.
  • Walk the Duke Street Walk of Fame.
  • Explore various markets like Cambridge Farmers Market, Trash’ N’ Treasure Market and Tamahere Country Market.
  • Take a walk on the Arapuni Swing Bridge.
  • Drive to Wairere Falls.

Who Turned up and Settled in Cambridge?

  • Give or take a hundred years, approximately the 13th-century people arrived. The original name is Kemureit (check the meaning in Travel Pack Section).
  • The current name recognises the Duke of Cambridge (not Kate and William) but Queen Victoria’s cousin, then the commander-in-chief of the British Army.
  • The town’s current location reflects the closest point to the Confiscation (Aukati) Line, which was accessible by river transport. The 3rd Waikato Militia settled in Cambridge. The camp built-in 1864 on Fort Street overlooked the river towards Maungatautari – the Maori fortified stronghold.
Cambridge Domain with historic bowling pavlion and rotunda, winter day, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge Domain with historic bowling pavlion and rotunda, winter day

What is Cambridge NZ Known for?

Thoroughbred race horses and foals in paddocks at Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge, Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Thoroughbred race horses and foals in paddocks at Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge

Dairying just in case you missed the cows placidly munching in the paddocks (fields) with sheep farming on the hill country. Agribusiness includes boutique wineries, horticulture and newer livestock such as Llamas.

Horse stud indicators are the more attractive wooden fences. Thoroughbred horse stock is protected from impact with the elimination of standard wire fencing. Picturesque farming creates an idyllic Aotearoa New Zealand postcard scene. The hard work is hidden behind the efficient-looking farm buildings.

What is the Best Time to Visit Cambridge

Cambridge can be visited all year round as there is always something to see and do.

During winters, there are plenty of indoor activities from the Tivoli Cinema, wellness centres and museums. Dotted throughout the district are art galleries and artisan stores. The local markets are a visitor’s favourite.

During spring and summer, water sports season with major rowing competitions and the chance to stretch your wings on Lake Karapiro are suggested. Biking the Waikato trails is a perfect way to take the slow lane exploring the district.

Autumn is a flurry of leaf colour, orange and red highlights, grab handfuls of curled, crisp gold leaves and play throw.

Cambridge knitted tree crafty covers, winter Waikato, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge knitted tree crafty covers, winter Waikato

What is the Population of Cambridge NZ

Cambridge has a population of 20,500 (Jun 2020). It is the largest town in the Waipa District and the third-largest urban area in Waikato.

 

Cambridge Weather

Cambridge town clock tower, cyclists, winter days, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge town clock tower, cyclists, winter days

In Cambridge, summers are warm, winters are chilly, wet, and windy, and the weather is mostly cloudy all year. The temperature ranges typically from 5°C to 25°C throughout the year.

Summer lasts three months, from December to March, with daily high temperatures averaging around 23°C. February is the hottest month in Cambridge, with an average high of 25°C.

Winter lasts three months, from May to September, with an average daily temperature of less than 15°C. July is the coldest month in Cambridge, with an average low of 5°C.

Click here to check out Cambridge’s current weather.

How to Reach Cambridge, New Zealand

  • By Air: Cambridge doesn’t have its own airport, but you can fly into Hamilton Airport and then take a rental car or bus to Cambridge.
  • By Bus: Cambridge is serviced by several bus companies, including Nakedbus and InterCity.
  • By Car

How Far is Hamilton from Cambridge?

Cambridge is situated 25 kilometres south of Hamilton, which is a 30-minute drive via State Highway One.

Cambridge town of trees, a blaze of autumn colour, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge

Travel Pack Information

“In pre-colonial days Cambridge was the site of an important Maori pa called Horotiu, the same name being applied to the course of the Waikato River from the vicinity of this pa to Ngaruawahia. Cambridge was chosen as a military settlement in June 1864, largely due to its position near the upstream limit of navigation for the steam vessels employed by the forces under General Sir Duncan Cameron during the Waikato War. Colonel Theodore Minet Haultain, Commandant of the Waikato Regiments, was responsible for the fixing of the actual site but he was assisted by General Cameron, and by Captain Cadell, the officer in charge of the river steamers. The 3rd Waikato Regiment camped on the site in 1865 and constructed a redoubt capable of accommodating a garrison of more than 1,000 men. With the end of hostilities and the expansion of farm settlement, Cambridge grew as a market town. In 1868 Cambridge became a highway district administered by a board of trustees. It was created a town district in 1882 and in 1886 attained borough status. The settlement of Leamington, which grew up on the left bank of the Waikato River opposite Cambridge, is linked to it by a traffic bridge. Leamington was created an independent town district in 1905 and, following merger proposals in 1956, became part of the Borough of Cambridge in 1958. The name Cambridge is stated to have been given by General Cameron because of a supposed resemblance of that part of the Waikato River to the River Cam in Cambridgeshire.” CAMBRIDGE – 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand – Te Ara: CAMBRIDGE’, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966.

Cambridge St Andrews Anglican church, f avourie for weddings, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge St Andrews Anglican church, favourie for weddings

Maori Land Confiscations – brief comments

“Parliament passed legislation enabling the confiscation (raupatu) of Māori land from tribes deemed to have ‘engaged in open rebellion against Her Majesty’s authority’. Pākehā settlers would occupy the confiscated land.

On the eve of the British invasion of Waikato in July 1863, the government ordered all Māori living in the Manukau district and on the Waikato frontier north of the Mangatāwhiri stream to take an oath of allegiance to the Queen and give up their weapons. Those who refused were warned that they would ‘forfeit the right to the possession of their lands guaranteed to them by the Treaty of Waitangi’.

Under the New Zealand Settlements Act, Waikato lost almost all their land and Ngāti Hauā about a third of theirs. But kūpapa (pro-government or neutral) Māori also lost land as the yardstick rapidly changed from guilt to convenience. Ngāti Maniapoto territory still under Kīngitanga control was untouched. In the long term, Taranaki Māori suffered most from confiscation in terms of land actually occupied.” Source Land confiscation law passed NZ History Updated 4 Dec 2020.

Is Cambridge Worth Visiting?

Cambridge is definitely worth visiting. It is a beautiful town with plenty of activities to keep you busy. The scenery is stunning, and there is always something new to explore. The people are friendly and welcoming, and the food is fantastic. If you are looking for a place to relax and enjoy yourself, Cambridge is the perfect spot.

Autumn in Te Koutu Park, Cambridge, New Zealand
Autumn in Te Koutu Park

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Cambridge BNZ bank decorated knitted craft tree warmers winter in Waikato, Waikato, New Zealand
Autumn rosehips in the rain, Te Koutu Domain Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Alpino restaurant Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Te Koutu Domain hothouse begonias, Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand
St Andrews platinum jubilee Queen Elizabeth, head of Anglican church, Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Knitted craft clothing for Cambridge trees, Waikato, New Zealand
Autumn in Te Koutu Park, Cambridge, New Zealand
Cambridge town of trees, a blaze of autumn colour, Waikato, New Zealand
Te Koutu Domain hothouse flowers, Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Thoroughbred race horses and foals in paddocks at Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge, Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge Domain with historic bowling pavlion and rotunda, winter day, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge Esquestarian sculpture near town hall, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge knitted tree crafty covers, winter Waikato, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge primary school heritage buildings and reimaged new, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge St Andrews Anglican church, f avourie for weddings, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge town clock tower, cyclists, winter days, Waikato, New Zealand

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