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Hamiltonians are passionate about the Waikato River. It has long been recognised as a remarkable natural asset and a defining feature of our city.

People’s connection with it goes back hundreds of years and Maaori from the Tainui waka have inhabited the area known as Hamilton for more than 400 years. The Waikato River is the tupuna of Waikato-Tainui, which is embodied in a unique and special relationship with the river. But most would agree the river is under-utilised and undervalued in the modern Hamilton. In recent decades numerous attempts have been made to develop a plan to activate Hamilton’s engagement with the river.  The Hamilton City River Plan is the first time Hamilton will have a comprehensive strategy to transform the way we use and view the 16km of Waikato River running through the city. The Plan is a 30-year vision for the river and will guide how we plan and use the river into the future.

The River Plan is for everyone. It has been developed with a team of experts and with feedback from the public.

People told us they wanted to be able to see and use the river more and they shared their ideas on what they would most like to see improved. This feedback has been valuable in helping to shape the ideas and projects in the River Plan. The message most loudly given was to ‘get on with it’.

The projects in the River Plan are divided in to those that can start immediately and others that will take some time to work through the detail. There are a number of changes that will need to be made to existing plans and special processes set by law the Council will follow, to ensure the River Plan is a success.

The success of the River Plan relies on the Council working with  Waikato-Tainui, the Waikato Regional Council, Mighty River Power, the Waikato River Authority, businesses and the community. Together we can achieve the vision and outcomes in the River Plan to transform Hamilton’s future.

Hamilton City River Plan
Ngaa Wariu
River development and use is considered in the context of the River Plan's four principles.
1 People (Ka tauawhi i te tangata)

The River Plan is for all the people who live in and visit Hamilton.

2 Economic Opportunity (Ka tauawhi i te aaheinga oohanga)

The River Plan will enable development that will promote enjoyment of the river and benefit the community.

3 Healthy River (Ka tauawhi i te awa me tona ora)

The River Plan supports Te Ture Whaimana O Te Awa o Waikato (The Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River).

4 Cultural Celebration (Ka whakanuia ngaa momo ahurea katoa)

The River Plan promotes the celebration of culture, sport, recreation and leisure.

The River Plan themes
The vision and principles of the plan are underpinned by six themes. The themes articulate the key outcomes sought for 16km of the river and reflect public feedback on what people said was most important to enhance use of the river.

In the following pages each theme is articulated by a series of precedent images that illustrate the outcomes envisaged for the river.

The images include examples of projects from around New Zealand and globally that have transformed the interaction of urban spaces with the water’s edge.

Themes are intended to be complementary and interconnected – for example, a visitor experience may be closely related to promoting art, enhancing accessibility to the river, and improving the experience of the natural environment.

Many projects will be developed from the themes and are included in the projects for each of the site locations.