The temperatures are rising, daylight saving has long settled in and the call of the outdoors is getting stronger. Summer is a beautiful time to get out and experience Hamilton and the Waikato region and its huge calendar of events.

Music festivals, hot air balloons and lots of foodie-inspired events are crammed into an action-packed calendar for summer visitors and locals alike. Here is just a sample:

International Cricket Series
Support the New Zealand Black Caps when they play against the West Indies (Dec 9-13) and against Pakistan on January 16 (ODI) at Hamilton’s Seddon Park, while they battle England for a T20 game on Sunday, February 25. The White Ferns take on the West Indies for a T20 match on Sunday, March 25.

Soundsplash
Held in Raglan from January 19-21, Soundsplash is a three-day summer festival of music, freedom and expression, held in the Wainui reserve. With an impressive line-up of both international and New Zealand bands hitting the stage over the three days, Soundsplash is the epitome of a summer festival. The 2018 line-up includes Katchafire, Dub FX, Slumberjack, Shapeshifter and much more.

For a chance to win tickets to Soundsplash, click here!

HSBC New Zealand Rugby Sevens
A huge event for the region, tens of thousands of rugby sevens’ fans are headed our way for the HSBC New Zealand Rugby Sevens held February 3-4. The sevens will see costumes of all sorts in the FMG Stadium Waikato stands, while some of the world’s top teams battle it out on the field. While tickets are sold out, there will be plenty of activities centred around the international event.

Kawhia Kai Festival
Lovers of traditional Maori kai will be in heaven at the Kawhia Kai Festival, held on February 3. Delicacies like creamed paua, paua fritters and whitebait are on the menu, along with traditional hangi, fry bread, mussels and more. As well as the great food, festival goers can see waka in action, enjoy entertainment and learn more about the significant cultural history of this small coastal township.

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival
Held over 12 days from February 7, with 67 events nestled within the 54 acres of the phenomenal Hamilton Gardens, the arts festival brings together an amazing collection of performers from far and wide, with events for all the family. Definitely a ‘must do’ on the local events calendar.

Balloons over Waikato
Celebrating 18 years of this iconic event in 2018, Balloons over Waikato takes to Hamilton skiesfrom March 21-25. Regarded as one of the country’s biggest free events, Balloons over Waikato will see a variety of hot air balloons taking flight each morning, and includes other great events such as the City Burn, and the famed Nightglow event, where balloons provide a choreographed light and music show.

Piako Triathlon
Great for all the family – the Piako Triathlon is on March 18 and open to all ages. With categories starting from the Novi Moo for ages six and up, through to the Mad Cows and Racing Bulls for ages 14-plus, the triathlon is the perfect chance to dip your feet into the multi-sport world. Great for active families wanting a day out.

Gourmet in the Gardens
Gourmet food trucks await visitors to the Hamilton Gardens every Sunday over the summer months. From 4-8pm, the Rhododendron Lawn at the Gardens becomes totally transformed into a gourmet food experience and family picnic area. Food trucks and stallholders offer a huge array of foods from around the globe, decadent desserts and more. Between the great events, don’t miss the chance to explore your own backyard, with a huge selection of great outdoor activities to soothe the soul – or get the heart pumping.

But wait, there’s more …
Head out on to one of the many cycle trails and walking tracks around the region. Try out the newly-opened Perry Bridge on the new Te Awa extension stretching between Ngaruawahia and Horotiu, adding a further 9kms to the already established trails along the mighty Waikato River. Experience pure beauty with a walk to the Blue Springs along Te Waihou Walkway, near Putaruru, or head up the infamous steps of the Hakarimatas’ summit track to help burn off those extra indulgences over the summer season.

All in all, the mighty Waikato offers lots of summer fun, right here in your own region. For more information, check out www.hamiltonwaikato.com