What makes the city of Hamilton, situated on the country's North Island, so attractive for the visitor is its modernity combined with ancient Maori culture. The city was built on the site of a collection of Maori villages and 20 minutes' drive away is the town of Ngaruawahia, home to the King Movement of the Maoris. The Waikato Museum fields a collection of over 38,000 taonga or Maori objects. In the month of February, the Kawhia Kai annual festival of Maori food takes place, about one hours' drive away.
The beautiful natural environment of the city converges in Hamilton Gardens, a public park situated between the bank of the Waikato River and State Highway 1. Visitors to the Gardens can enjoy a collection of over 23 themed areas with names like "herb garden" and "Victorian flower garden." Hamilton Zoo, on Brymer Road in the suburb of Rotokauri, covers over 25 hectares and many of its exhibits are unique. Its aviary is one of the largest free-flight areas in the southern hemisphere, housing birds native to New Zealand. The Rainforest Walk includes primates from Asia, Africa and South America. Visitors to Hamilton can enjoy musical entertainment at the Founders Theatre and at the Clarence Street Theatre.