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Art & Heritage

Cambridge Museum what to see and do

  • 3 minutes

Waikato, North Island

The Cambridge Museum, housed in the original courthouse, bookends one end of the main street. Conveniently close to the enticing coffee / pastry store this is a must-do destination for historical buffs.


Top sights – Cambridge museum

Cambridge, original jailhouse, nearby Cambridge Museum, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge, original jailhouse, nearby Cambridge Museum, NZ
  • Treasure trove of photographs, documents and memorabilia (for research purposes book beforehand to avoid disappointment)
  • The Datsons, the story of fame and fortune in the music industry
  • Cambridge with its distinctive wooden buildings was a fire trap. Imagine battling fires with buckets transferred hand to hand and only handheld fire grenades. The grenade’s glass stopper shattered on content releasing fire retardant liquid. Cambridge witnessed its first fire brigade in 1904 with the establishment of Cambridge Volunteer Fire Brigade. Original uniforms, apparatus and the story of fire fighting in a small town is a thought provoking story of the threat of fire in small towns.
  • How are you? Kei te pehea koe? Cambridge has a strong medical history. Discover the lives of nurses, chemists and health professionals in the district. The story of well being, wellness continues today.
  • Absorb the the rich history of this area in the Waipā district, featuring taonga Māori and objects dating from the 1300s-1900s

Want to stay awhile in Cambridge? Perhaps visit Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves less than 30 minutes from Cambridge.


Town of trees and champions

Cambridge is a town of trees. Mature deciduous trees showcasing the seasons with spring light leaf green to autumn bronzed gold leaf drop.

A town of champions is reference to the substantive thoroughbred horse industry. The town is now well known for its Thoroughbred studs and stables, which have produced many champion horses in the sports of racing and show jumping. Cambridge is popularly known as the ‘equine capital’ of New Zealand. Internationally known thoroughbred studs in the area include: Cambridge Stud … wikipedia.

Cambridge Museum garden mural, Waikato, New Zealand
Cambridge Museum garden mural, NZ

Look for the wooden fencing framing lush paddocks. This is a clear indication of a thoroughbred stud farm as horses are protected from inadvertent injury when in contact with a fence.

Winter, Firth Tower heritage church and schoolhouse, Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand
Winter, Firth Tower heritage church and schoolhouse, Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Firth Tower & open air historical village in Matamata giving visitors a fascinating glimpse into New Zealand’s agricultural past. The Charlie Chaplin silent move reel in the vintage 1920’s theatre is awesome.

Heritage walks around Cambridge

Walks are clearly signposted with distinctive green & gold signage. Brochures are available from the Cambridge Museum and the local visitor centre. There is a mobile friendly app to download the route map and places of significance. Walks include:

  • 19th century churches and religious architecture
  • Cambridge Domain, Victorian and Edwardian rotundas situated around Lake Te Ko Utu
  • Heritage town buildings from the beautiful Town Hall, significant business premises, cottages and private dwellings

Download the app, Lace up the boots and explore Cambridge at your own pace.

Vibrant yellow-orange leaves during autumn in Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Vibrant yellow-orange leaves during autumn in Cambridge, NZ

Spending a few days in Cambridge, here’s a guide to Cambridge, Waikato shopping, eat and drink guide – Best Bits.

Dr Margaret Guthrie visiting Cambridge Museum medical exhibition June 2022, Waikato, New Zealand
Dr Margaret Guthrie visiting Cambridge Museum medical exhibition June 2022, NZ

The Cambridge Museum has a wealth of information, artefacts and collections narrating the story of the mighty Waikato River. Waikato River is emblematic as a boundary marker, a place of refuge and a symbol of the fertile plains of the Waikato. The Mighty Waikato River is a must-do highlight for cyclists and walkers.

The Cambridge Museum is housed in the former Cambridge Courthouse with the original two cell lockup jail now a convenient storage area for the Museum. The museum is largely supported by dedicated volunteers.  Best Bits travel guide is pleased to support the museum and encourages visitors to donate to the museum either online or during your visit to the museum.

The museum encourages visitors with free admission to the exhibits.

Getting to Cambridge Museum

Directions – How to get to Cambridge Museum

You’ll find us on Victoria Street, near the centre of town, just a ten minute walk from cafes and boutique shops in the town centre. Or it is a four minute stroll from the Cambridge i-SITE.

If biking or scootering to town, you may leave your vehicles at the bike rack on Victoria Street opposite the Cambridge i-SITE.

Cambridge is on the North Island’s main State Highway 1 between Hamilton and Rotorua/Taupo. Follow signs into the town centre, and you will find the museum on Victoria Street.


There are parking bays in front of the museum and a carpark to the rear which can be accessed via Commerce Street and Fort Street.

National and public buses service Cambridge seven days a week, with frequent services north, east, south and west. Intercity coaches pick up and depart from Victoria Street by the restrooms just across the road from the Cambridge i-SITE.

For bookings and timetables please visit the Cambridge i-SITE on the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets or phone 07 823-3456.


We are unable to provide wheelchair access into the museum due to the building’s heritage status. A handrail is provided to assist with the five steps on entry.

Seating is available in the main exhibition space and in our front garden.

Kids and Families

Kids and families are always welcome to the museum. Museum Hunts for pre-school and primary-aged children are available for free all year round, and special activities are often planned during school breaks and summer holidays. Check out For Families for more details.



The museum does not provide public toilets.  However, nearby facilities are available in Milicich Place or at the Waipa District Council Service Centre.



Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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