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Hamilton is New Zealand’s largest inland city and its fourth largest urban area overall, with a population of 165,000. It’s traditionally been an agricultural centre, but Hamilton is also a university town, with more than 40,000 tertiary students enrolled at the University of Waikato, Waikato Institute of Technology and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Hamilton is young and fast-growing and has a surprisingly vibrant nightlife and restaurant scene.

Hamilton is known for its impressive botanic gardens. Hamilton also has a good zoo and the Waikato Museum, as well as several art galleries. The town hosts several events throughout the year, including a V8 supercar race and a hot-air balloon festival, both in April.

Also, Rocky Horror Picture Show fans take note: a bronze statue of the character Riff Raff can be found at the south end of Victoria Street, in commemoration of Hamilton resident Richard O’Brien, who dreamed up the cult hit.

The Waikato River flows through the town and makes for a pleasant riverfront setting.

Local transport

Hamilton has a good local bus network that is comprised of 26 city routes. Most buses run every half hour, although some services (including the Orbiter and the free CBD Shuttle) run every 15 minutes.

The standard cash fare is $3.30, although this does let you transfer to another Hamilton urban bus route within an hour and the fare is $2.40 if you pay using a BUSIT card. There is also an all-day City Explorer ticket that costs $7.90 ($6.30 with a BUSIT card), which gives you unlimited bus travel (up till 3am the next day) within the Hamilton city limits.

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