It’s estimated that one in seven of New Zealand’s Maori live in the Waikato – that’s almost 80,000 people.

In pre-European days, the Cambridge area had a number of pa (fortified villages) and King Tawhiao, is recorded as saying: “Ko Arekahanara toku haona kaha Ko Kemureti toku oko horoi Ko Ngaruawhaia toku turangawaewae.” Translated to English, he said: “Alexandra (now known as Pirongia) is my stronghold, Cambridge is my wash basin, Ngaruawahia is my footstool.”

The name “Waikato” comes from Maori and translates as “flowing water”, a reference to Waikato River, the country’s longest (425km) which flows through Cambridge and has special spiritual meaning for Maori, especially the Tainui iwi (regional tribe).

The story of Cambridge’s history, and links with Maori, can be explored at the Cambridge Museum located in the Old Court House, 24 Victoria St. It’s open weekdays 10 – 4, Weekends and public holidays 10 – 2.

The Cambridge Community Marae is on the corner of Bracken Street and Pope Terrace, Leamington, and overlooks the Waikato River.

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The perfect base to explore
New Zealand's central North Island

Cambridge is close to some of New Zealand's major international attractions like Hobbiton, Waitomo Caves, Hamilton Gardens and Tauranga. Yet with plenty of unique local attractions, events and dining options - and a friendly, relaxed town ambience - you may not want to leave!

Attractions Map

Sanctuary Mountain

30 min

Hamilton Gardens

15 min

Cambridge i-Site


1 hr

Waitomo Caves

50 min


1 hr 45 min


1 hr


1 hr