Hamilton, New Zealand

Living in Hamilton

Iyna Bort Caruso

In a country known for its allure, it was no small accomplishment for Hamilton to be recognized as the most beautiful large city in New Zealand.

Hamilton is on the North Island, straddling the country’s longest river, the Waikato.

While the South Island is celebrated for its mountains and fjords, the more populous North Island is known for its cultural attractions and urban centers. Three of New Zealand’s four largest cities are here: Auckland, the capital of Wellington and Hamilton.

Hamilton is situated inland in agricultural territory, but it’s not isolated. Within about an hour’s drive is Auckland International Airport to the north and beaches to the east and west.

Hamilton is young and growing. Home to institutions of higher learning and several research facilities, students account for a healthy slice of its population—and its vibrancy, nightlife and arts.  Development is measured and balanced by a priority on green spaces. A green belt of parks includes Hamilton Gardens, the city’s top attraction. For hikers and cyclists, dozens of on and off-road paths wind through the city and its outskirts.

Kirikiriroa was the original name of the region, given by the indigenous Maoris who were the first inhabitants. A permanent European settlement was established in the mid-19th century. First roads and, later, the opening of a railway junction in 1877 jump-started its growth. World War I spurred a second population boom when Hamilton became a key transportation hub.

The Hamilton property market is replete with premium neighborhoods in the central business district as well as in suburbs like Flagstaff and Rototuna. In the city center, older homes have been demolished and replaced with luxury townhouses and apartments. In outlying areas, buyers can find early 20th century villas, Art Deco gems and contemporary residences on generous plots.