Cambridge is known the world over for producing world champion thoroughbred horses, with famous names like Sir Tristram having made their mark on the world of International horse racing. Today Zabeel is making the headlines, following in that great stallion’s footsteps. This manicured Kiwi town lies peacefully on the banks of the Waikato River and is known as the ‘town of trees’.
First impressions of Cambridge are brilliant, full of tree lined streets, wonderful parks and gardens. There’s a real English feel to the town and there are plenty of things to see and do in the surrounding areas.
Finding places to stay is easy as there is a great range of standard hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts dotted around the area. If you are looking for something a little more upmarket there are several luxury hotels too. Cambridge gets a surprising number of visitors given its size, so there are plenty of top notch restaurants and the café scene is trendy and vibrant.
When you get a chance take a drive to Maungatautari, the mountain sanctuary that’s only around 15 minutes from town by car. It’s well worth the short drive because the native wildlife in the sanctuary is exceptional, and you might just get lucky enough to catch a glimpse of an elusive and shy kiwi bird.
Another great place to visit in the region is Lake Karapiro which is one of the best international water sport venues in the North Island. If you are into water-skiing, yachting, canoeing and rowing then this is the place to spend a few days in an idyllic Kiwi setting. Lake Te Koutu is another great place to visit – surrounded by a bird sanctuary, it is a lot more peaceful than Lake Karapiro with some wonderful walks through the countryside.
There are loads of organized tours in the area that include a visit to Karapiro Hydro Museum, where you can learn how the Waikato River’s power is harnessed. If you want a more cultural experience, then a tour around Cambridge Museum is a must. As the area is such a wonderful region for thoroughbred horses, you can’t visit without taking a tour around the superb Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge which is situated just 3 km south of the town. Tours around the stud farm include show jumping displays and much more.
Cambridge is a lovely town that welcomes visitors with open arms. There’s plenty to see and do in the area and finding places to stay is generally not a problem (although things get pretty busy around Christmas time). If you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and fishing, Cambridge has it all in some of the most beautiful settings on the island.
Distances: 23km from Hamilton, 150km from Auckland
Best time to visit: The weather is warmest in summer (Nov-Mar), and coinciding your trip with the annual Christmas Festival in December wouldn’t be a bad idea.
How long to spend there: Allow a day or two to explore Cambridge and the surrounding area.
Things to know: As with many of the small towns in New Zealand, the pace of life is slow in Cambridge. Take your time exploring the parks, waterways and cafes – there’s no hurry.