12 Things to Do in Matamata (That Doesn’t Involve Hobbits)
What to do in Matamata New Zealand
Let’s be honest. You’re here for the Hobbits. It’s true, Matamata has kind of become an essential destination on most trips around the North Island, but beyond Hobbit Holes, what else is there to do in Matamata New Zealand? Well, you’ve come to the right place with this list of things to do in Matamata!
Not only is Matamata in the Waikato home to a famous Lord of the Rings movie set, but the Kiwi town is also close to many awesome walks, historic sites, tasty treats and much more. Walk to the North Island’s highest waterfall, climb hills for epic views, taste some New Zealand cheese, wander around art galleries and gardens and so much more! You could even stay a while in one of the affordable 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Matamata.
1. See Wairere Falls
From one enchanting place to another, the Wairere Falls walk will take you through moss-covered rocks and tree roots like something out of a fairy tale. Walk the 3-4 hour track to the highest waterfall in the North Island cascading an impressive 153m. There’s also an option to take a further 30-45 minutes-walk on a less-maintained track for a different perspective of the falls. See here for more waterfalls you can’t miss in New Zealand.
Location: 15 minutes drive from Matamata. The walk starts from Goodwin Road, off Old Te Aroha Road.
2. Discover the Matamata Heritage Trail
Before Hobbits roamed the town, Matamata was just a humble Kiwi town. Get a sense for the town, while seeing some spectacular gardens, on the Matamata Heritage Trail. Most people start the 1h40min loop from the i-SITE where you can pick up a heritage trail map. Highlights include a grand 1919 bank building, the Railway Plantation from 1855, as well as parks and gardens.
Location: Start from the Matamata i-SITE.
3. Solve Puzzles at Matamata’s very own Escape Room
Make your next challenge in life to escape one of the epic themed rooms of Trapd Escape Rooms! Immerse in one of the fun themes, from a gritty cowboy saloon to a quirky Kiwi bach, where your mission is to escape the room within a time limit solving puzzles and codes. Whether it’s to do something in Matamata on a rainy day or to reconnect with your travel buddies or loved ones, solving an escape room is one hell of a way to spend an hour (or shorter if you’re good enough).
Location: 10 Waharoa Road West
4. Taste some New Zealand cheese
New Zealand is onto a good thing when it comes to dairy (it’s the largest industry in New Zealand). The New Zealand cheese will please even the snoopiest cheese fan, so head to Kaimai Cheese in Waharoa, get yourself a platter and even watch the cheese being made behind a window into the cheese factory.
Location: 10 minutes drive from Matamata heading north on State Highway 27.
5. Take a dip in the Opal Hot Springs
It’s like an outdoor swimming pool… but hot! There are also two outdoor mineral hot pools to unwind in which are bound to warm you up in winter or ease your aches after a long day adventuring. Plus, they are among some of the cheapest hot pools in the country!
Location: 5 minutes out of Matamata on the Okauia Springs Road off Tower Road.
6. Step back in time at the Firth Tower
Who doesn’t like a tower?! Wander the heritage buildings, colourful gardens and the exhibits of the Firth Tower Museum. The picturesque tower was built in 1882 along with 13 surrounding buildings now full of exhibitions. It’s free to wander the gardens or a small fee for touring the buildings.
Location: 3 minutes from Matamata on Tower Road.
7. Roam Daltons Plantation
NZ$5 gives you access to these wonderful gardens of different international styles. Get lost in the Setsugekka Maze, be transported in the Japanese Garden, try out the amphitheatre, as well as the classic New Zealand Kauri Grove, Chelsea 100% Pure NZ Garden and so much more! Food in the cafe is also available to book.
Location: 5 minutes drive from Matamata heading south on State Highway 27.
8. Visit the Wallace Gallery
In the nearby town of Morrinsville is the Wallace Gallery. Showcasing contemporary New Zealand art, it’s a great place to get your cultural fix. The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday.
Location: 30 minutes drive from Matamata, take State Highway 24 north turning left onto State Highway 26 at Tatuanui.
9. Fly in a glider plane
Feel the magic of soaring through the skies at the Piako Gliding Club. While the club mostly offers training for glider pilots, visitors can get a taste for soaring in their trial flights where you will be paired with an instructor who will go through all the controls before you’re towed behind a tow plane.
Location: 10 minutes drive north on State Highway 27.
10. Walk the Rapurapu Kauri Track
Walk through a mix of exotic forest, then native bush until you reach some of the southernmost kauri growing in New Zealand. The 1h30minute one-way walk follows a stream which you’ll cross several times. Some of the best views of the kauri can be seen from the stream before entering the boardwalk. Another short walk worth doing is the Kaimai Summit only 4km away.
Location: 12 minutes from Matamata. Take State Highway 27 south and follow State Highway 29 where the walk is along the Kaimai Range.
11. Get awesome views from the Te Panui Scenic Reserve
This loop walk climbs through native forest to a lookout tower atop the Maungakawa summit. Beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and the Firth of Thames awaits on this 3-4 hour walk. Take the anti-clockwise route for a steeper climb but easier coming down.
Location: 25 minutes from Matamata. Take Piakonui Road is off Piakoiti Road off Morgan Road.
12. Play a round of golf
Hit the 18-hole Matamata Golf Course and try your hand at New Zealand’s most popular sport (golf has the highest participation rate of any sport in New Zealand). Enjoy views of the Kaimai Ranges on this golf course open all year round. Green fees are at a reasonable price of around NZ$40.
Location: 7-minute drive from Matamata off Okauia Road off Tower Road.
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