Outdoors, exploring walks, four playgrounds and where to eat
Hamilton is usually a swift drive by on the way south. There is plenty to do and see with the kids in Hamilton with the sun shining. Explore mighty Waikato and cycle Waikato River trails.
In Hamilton with the kids you are spoiled for choice. The children are intrigued with the project which is testing out the best playgrounds in Hamilton plus their favourite places to eat. Play and eat + ice cream is the makings of a perfect day out in Hamilton with the kids. Kids have an opportunity to field test Hare Puke Playground, Hamilton Lake Domain playground, Steele Park Playground and Hamilton Gardens Destination Playground. That’s four playgrounds and probably too many to fit into a day. That means you have to return for more fun in Hamilton.
The Village Cafe
In rural Whatawhata is a converted shed. Now local shops and a rustic cafe occupy the site. And you do not need to be a kid to thoroughly enjoy the setting, it just helps to have kids along as you wonder about the Hobbit playhouse, the wooden digger and tyre climbing area. Check you have a change of clothes as the outdoor kitchen has running water and the other tots are already creating mud pies.
The counter food ranges from healthy savoury delights to yummy sweet treats and growups can order the adorable iced teddy bear as well as the kids. The menu will pass muster with the parents with its non-reliance on sweet treats. Here’s a glimpse of the cafe and feel inspired, The Village cafe.
Check In a day in Hamilton with the kids in winter for Hamilton Farmers Market inspiration
Stock up the goodie bag with the making of a picnic lunch.
LATE MORNING – PICNIC AT TAITUA ARBORETUM
Work up an appetite with over 22 hectares of native and mature exotic trees, lakes, woodland gardens to explore. For kids and families looking for a longer walk commencement at the Tills Lookout on Melva Street for great views of Hamilton City and follow the path for a 30 minute walk to the arboretum. There is plenty of space to create your own private picnic space. While some of the walks are reasonably steep there are plenty of well signposted easy walks. The kids will enjoy being greeted by the free roaming chickens on arrival. Bikes are not allowed in the park.
NOT KEEN ON A PICNIC – VERANDAH CAFE & HAMILTON LAKE DOMAIN PLAYGROUND
The Verandah is situated at the edge of Hamilton Lake Domain playground. The water play stations within full view of verandah cafe patrons are designed for all ages and abilities including kids with disabilities. Water plays with canals and spouts guarantees a change of clothing might be needed. The playground has a three story wooden fort for older children complete with climbing tubes and tunnels. For young kids there is a protected gated area.
The Verandah cafe gives parents the opportunity for a coffee while overlooking the play area. In summer the cafe’s kiosk offers ice creams.
EARLY AFTERNOON – HARE PUKE PLAYGROUND
Hare Puke was awarded 2019 New Zealand Playground of the year. The playground is located within Lake Rotoroa [Hamilton Lake domain]. There is a scooter track, communal swing area, sensory water play and sound instruments to bang. Climbing, swinging, spinning in chairs, balancing and jumping are all catered for. A favourite is the vibrant green enormous slide with its protective padded sides
Within the domain is another well known cafe Veranda Cafe with its seamless flow into the domain and lake.
The domain has a flat easy 3.8km walk around the lake and watch people guide their model boats.
MID AFTERNOON – STEELE PARK PLAYGROUND & DUCK ISLAND ICE CREAM
Steele Park is framed by mature oak trees creating welcome shady areas in the summer. The playground has a bird’s nest roundabout, stepping poles for balancing and agility and a kakapo climbing apparatus. While the playground is not as contemporary as Hare Puke it is a classic and the setting among the majestic oaks is beautiful Duck Island‘s flagship ice cream store is next to the playground and has 24 flavours of yummy ice cream, including dairy free and gluten free options plus sells sell tacos, sandwiches and coffee.
AND THE DAY IS NOT OVER … HAMILTON GARDENS DESTINATION PLAYGROUND
Adjoining the iconic Hamilton Gardens is a compact innovative playground. Kids get to test out a playground with a garden theme. The playground encourages imagination and roleplay with games and puzzles from a children’s block sculpture scattered across a maze, a fort nestled among the trees and a giant underground earthworm tunnel to explore.
Definitely Hamilton is playground central for kids and the makings of a regular day trip from Auckland and surrounding districts. For visitors further afield you have an excellent holiday programme for kids in free public playgrounds in Hamilton.
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