Father’s Day ideas across the Waikato for every budget

For Father’s Day, Waitomo Adventures is offering a 20% discount on its iconic 100m abseiling experience in the Lost World Cave. Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

With Father’s Day fast approaching, as part of our Mighty Local story series, the Waikato Herald traveled to the area to investigate the many special ways dads and grandfathers are celebrated.

    Image / Tourism in Hamilton and Waikato
Image / Tourism in Hamilton and Waikato

The good news is that from local brews to hot laps around the race track or a caving adventure, to a hike or bike ride or treating her to lunch or dinner, there are many ways to honor dads/granddads in the Waikato this Father’s Day September 4th.

Some area attractions and experiences offer Father’s Day discounts and there are others that are free any day of the year.

Among the special Father’s Day offers, the ubiquitous gift of socks is one of three offers from SkyCity Hamilton. Dad socks come with a burger order at EAT Burger, or there’s free dad dessert with pizzas purchased at Zone Sports Bar, and Bowl and Social dads free bowl with a paying child.

There are dining experiences across the Waikato for every taste and budget.  Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism
There are dining experiences across the Waikato for every taste and budget. Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

At Waitakaruru Arboretum’s Sculpture Park, it’s possible to get Dad’s help to solve a special “out of the box” treasure hunt and win a prize.

If Dad is a bit of an adrenaline junkie, high excitement adventures are a Waikato specialty.
Pick up a gift voucher with a 25% discount at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park where he can line up for motor racing experiences – laps around the track in a Lamborghini or the high-speed safety car, or get behind the wheel from a V8 muscle car, a zippy go-kart, or off-road in a 4WD Jeep.

More thrills lie beneath the earth’s surface where Waitomo Adventures is offering a 20% discount on its iconic 100m abseiling experience in the Lost World Cave.
For these specials, readers should check the fine print available online, either on the organization’s website or Facebook page.

Inexpensive and free ways to honor dad include taking him outside where there are many free activities like a family walk by the river.  Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism
Inexpensive and free ways to honor dad include taking him outside where there are many free activities like a family walk by the river. Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

Time with Dad is one of the greatest gifts a child can give, and one of the inexpensive and free ways to honor it this Father’s Day is to take it outside in the Waikato where there are many free activities and experiences to do.

If he’s a gardener, or even has a sense of fantasy, take him to Hamilton Gardens where themed gardens include the Surreal Garden with its oddly shaped topiary trees, while the latest addition, the Egyptian Garden ancient tells of the time when pharaohs ruled over 4000 -plus years ago.

New Zealand’s self-proclaimed capital of Kiwiana is Ōtorohanga, which proudly celebrates many of the things Dad was likely raised with – from rubber boots and No. 8 yarn to pavlovas and the iconic buzzing bee children’s toy.

New Zealand's capital of Kiwiana is Ōtorohanga, which proudly celebrates many of the things Dad was probably raised with.  Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism
New Zealand’s capital of Kiwiana is Ōtorohanga, which proudly celebrates many of the things Dad was probably raised with. Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

This upcoming Father’s Day weekend, take Dad outside in mighty Waikato where most of the walking and biking trails are as free as the fresh air.

Family-friendly walks include the Kauri Loop Track in the Hakarimata Scenic Reserve near Ngāruawāhia, or one of the various walks on Mount Pirongia, or a walk around Lake Hamilton.

For incredible views and hikers with a good level of fitness, there is the summit of Mount Te Aroha, or the top of Wairere Falls, at 153m, the highest in the North Island. If dad prefers two wheels, the Waikato is the heart of cycling with choices ranging from hurtling down forest covered hills on mountain bikes to meandering along rivers and through farmland and home to two of New Zealand’s Great Rides.

Give Dad a gift voucher with a 25% discount at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park where he can field a variety of motor racing experiences.  Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism
Give Dad a gift voucher with a 25% discount at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park where he can field a variety of motor racing experiences. Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

Dad might like to ride the 85 mile Timber Trail, one of the great hikes in the area. This backcountry ride follows historic trams through Pureora Forest Park and takes a full day for fit cyclists or three days for cyclists preferring a more leisurely pace. The trail can also be walked in shorter sections.

New Zealand’s other Great Ride is the four to five day Hauraki Rail Trail. It can also be walked in sections, rather than the full distance – for example, the Te Aroha section in Matamata.

Te Awa – The Great NZ River Ride is another fantastic option. It follows the mighty Waikato awa for 65 km between Ngāruawāhia and Lake Karapiro, and can also be hiked in easy sections.

Dads with Olympic aspirations might like to try the Grassroots Trust Velodrome where there’s a one hour session to learn how to ride a track bike.

Dads with Olympic aspirations might like to try the Grassroots Trust Velodrome where there's a one hour session to learn how to ride a track bike.  Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism
Dads with Olympic aspirations might like to try the Grassroots Trust Velodrome where there’s a one hour session to learn how to ride a track bike. Photo/Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

For mountain bike enthusiasts, there are dedicated trails for all tastes, from beginners to advanced. The trails of the Raglan region, as well as those of Mount Pirongia, Te Miro and Hamilton’s Pukete Mountain Bike Park are worth exploring with an adventurous dad.

If golf is the game of choice, there are courses throughout the Waikato that welcome visitors, including the area’s newest, Tieke Golf Estate, popular with some of the All Blacks when not chasing. points on the rugby pitch – and many of them are dads too.

Get your dad tickets to the All Blacks against Argentina in Hamilton on September 3.  Get to the game early and explore the wall of history outside FMG Waikato Stadium.  Photo/Mike Walen/KeyImagery Photography
Get your dad tickets to the All Blacks against Argentina in Hamilton on September 3. Get to the game early and explore the wall of history outside FMG Waikato Stadium. Photo/Mike Walen/KeyImagery Photography

Of course, for rugby-loving dads, a great Father’s Day gift would be tickets to the All Blacks vs Argentina match at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on September 3. Get to the game early and explore the wall of history that borders the stadium where you can snap a picture of dad standing next to a life-size photo of one of the rugby greats who played at the stadium.

For many, the perfect way to celebrate family occasions, including Father’s Day, is to eat out at a restaurant when stories are shared around the table.

Waikato’s wide range of restaurants means there’s a dining experience for every taste and budget.

At the top are the award-winning restaurants where many chefs like to tap into the local pantry to showcase fresh, seasonal produce and food items. Then there are burger joints, pizzerias and many different ethnic restaurants that promise a world tour for the taste buds.

Subscribe to Premium

If the father figure loves craft beer — or cider — the area’s microbreweries also offer a variety, from pilsners and lagers to darker ales. Many have their own bars and their beers are also available at many local bars and restaurants.

In addition to beer, local hit Good George Brewing produces craft gin and vodka. This year, the company is celebrating Father’s Day with a special double pack containing its small batch of Father’s Day Distilled Gin and Bacon Vodka, considered the perfect ingredient in a Bloody Mary cocktail.

Comments are closed.