The area was named after New Zealand’s longest river.
The Waikato River winds 425 kilometres from Lake Taupo on the Central Plateau to the Tasman sea.
Before European settlement, the Waikato was heavily populated by Māori.
Now about a quarter of Waikato's population are Māori, including the Kīngitanga (Māori King), Tuheitia Paki who lives in the town of Ngāruawāhia.
The region’s largest city is Hamilton, with a population of more than 169,000 New Zealand’s fourth largest city, lies about an hour and a half’s drive south of Auckland.
Waikato region Statistics
Population 2018 Census
% born outside NZ:
Median income before tax
Average house price
Hamilton City $875,995
South Waikato $484,098
The Waikato Region is home to many attractions, including:
- stretches of peaceful farmland
- the vibrant city of Hamilton
- native forests and bushlands
- spectacular caves
- Lake Taupō (our country's largest lake)
- some of the best surf beaches in the country
- stunning mountains
- geothermal activity, and
- the world-famous 'Hobbiton'.
The region’s infrastructure is well supported and provide significant opportunities for export and import.
National road and rail networks connect the area to Auckland International Airport and the ports of Auckland and Tauranga.
Hamilton Airport is located 20 minutes south of the city's CBD.
Waikato district offers peaceful living. The rural tranquillity and views of farmland and bush are making it increasingly popular.
The coastal areas of the region offer relaxed lifestyles. The Coromandel is a top holiday spot for New Zealanders, and Raglan is a mecca for surfers.
In contrast, Hamilton City is vibrant and diverse. The city is home to more than 80 ethnic groups and around half its residents under 30 years old.
Hamilton is spoilt for choice for places to relax and enjoy, including:
- the international award-winning Hamilton Gardens
- Hamilton Zoo
- aquatic centres
- international sports stadiums and event facilities
- an extensive network of walkways and cycle ways linking with the Waikato River
- cafes, bars and restaurants.
Economy and industry
Dairying and agricultural bio-technology drive the Waikato’s economy, supported by thoroughbred horse breeding and training, forestry and coal mining.
Fonterra, the world leading dairy products supplier, is based here and Hamilton hosts the National Agricultural Fieldays, the largest agricultural tradeshow in the Southern Hemisphere.
Many of New Zealand’s leading agri-science research facilities are based in the Waikato and R&D is a key contributor to the economy. The electric fence and aerial top dressing are just two of the innovations to come from the region.
Education is another important sector, including a major University, a teacher’s college, technical institute hospital and nurse training.
The Waikato region is mild and temperate with moderate rainfall. Daily maximum temperatures in Hamilton range between 22-26°C in January and February and 10-15°C in July and August.
Summer temperatures occasionally reach 28°C, while on clear winter mornings temperatures may drop to as low as −3°C.
Low-lying areas experience regular morning fog.
Top five migrant populations (2018 Census)
Many migrants have already made the Waikato home. The table below shows where these migrants are moving from and demonstrates the diverse population you can expect to find in the Waikato.
It can be comforting to know there are others, similar to you, who have experienced the move.
No. of migrants
UK and Ireland
|Middle East and Africa||10,539 (2.3%)|
|Pacific Islands||8,248 (1.8%)|
Now that you know about what the Waikato has to offer, have a read about everyday life in the region, and services and support you can access.
Upcoming events in your region
Events for new migrants are regularly held throughout the country. Gain local insight into finding a job and getting setup and settled in New Zealand.