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Kemureti (Māori)
Country New Zealand
Region Waikato
Territorial authority Waipa District
 • Total 26.67 km2 (10.30 sq mi)
 (June 2023)
 • Total 21,800
 • Density 817.4/km2 (2,117/sq mi)
3432, 3434

Cambridge (Māori: Kemureti) is a town in the Waipa District of the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand. Situated 24 kilometres (15 mi) southeast of Hamilton, on the banks of the Waikato River, Cambridge is known as "The Town of Trees & Champions". The town has a population of 21,800, making it the largest town in the Waipa District, and the third largest urban area in the Waikato (after Hamilton and Taupo).

Cambridge was a finalist in the 2017 and 2019 New Zealand's Most Beautiful Large Town awards, run by Keep New Zealand Beautiful. It was awarded the title New Zealand's Most Beautiful Large Town in October 2019.


Hamilton Puketaha & Cambridge War Memorials
Hamilton, Puketaha & Cambridge war memorials

Prior to the arrival of Europeans there were a number of in the vicinity of what would become Cambridge. In the 1850s missionaries and farmers from Britain settled in the area and introduced modern farming practices to local Māori, helping them set up two flour mills and importing grinding wheels from England and France.

The European town of Cambridge was established when the 3rd Regiment of the Waikato Militia were settled there in 1864 following the Invasion of the Waikato. The town was named after Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army at the time.


Victoria Bridge, Cambridge NewZealand1
Victoria Bridge over the Waikato River

Cambridge lies adjacent to State Highway 1, which connects the town with Hamilton in the northwest and Tauranga, Rotorua and Taupo in the southeast. Access to Cambridge from the north is via the Cambridge Road and Victoria Road interchanges, and from the south is via the Tirau Road interchange. Prior to the Waikato Expressway extension opening in December 2015, SH 1 ran through the centre of Cambridge.

State Highway 1B leaves SH 1 at the Victoria Road interchange and provides a route north to SH 1 at Taupiri, providing a route north towards Auckland while bypassing Hamilton to the east.

Hamilton Airport, 18 minutes drive from Cambridge, is the nearest airport and provides daily flights to all New Zealand's main centres.

A public bus service connects Cambridge with central Hamilton via Tamahere and Waikato University several times daily.

Cambridge was formerly the terminus of the Cambridge Branch railway, but this closed beyond Hautapu in 1999.

Until the railway was built the Waikato River was the main form of transport, Cambridge being the limit of navigation. Steamers continued to serve Cambridge until the 1930s. The wharf was near the Karapiro Stream, where the river was wide enough for steamers to turn.


Cambridge and the surrounding district is host to many sporting, cultural and trade events. World events have included the 2010 World Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro and the 2015–16 UCI Track Cycling World Cup held in December 2015. More than 120,000 visitors attend the National Agricultural Fieldays every June at the Mystery Creek Events Centre between Cambridge and Hamilton.

Every summer, Lake Karapiro hosts the Waka Ama Sprint National Championships and the hydroplane racing as part of the New Zealand Grand Prix Circuit. In February, the Keyte Watson Polo Tournament takes place at Leamington, Cambridge. Every March, Cambridge holds its four-day Autumn Festival and in December, a Christmas Festival (including a town parade) takes place.


Cambridge's main sources of employment and income come from dairy farming, tourism, the equine industry and sport. Dairy farming provides more than one in 10 jobs in the Waipa District. The tourism industry supports 12.7% of jobs in Waipa District. The equine industry provides more than 600 jobs in the Waikato, with many based in and around Cambridge. It is estimated that one in five Cambridge residents work in nearby Hamilton.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 13,494 —    
2013 15,540 +2.04%
2018 18,180 +3.19%

Cambridge, comprising the statistical areas of Cambridge North, Cambridge West, Cambridge East, Cambridge Park-River Garden, Oaklands-St Kilda, Cambridge Central, Leamington West, Leamington South, Leamington Central and Leamington East, had a population of 18,180 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 2,640 people (17.0%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 4,686 people (34.7%) since the 2006 census. There were 6,909 households. There were 8,685 males and 9,489 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.92 males per female, with 3,588 people (19.7%) aged under 15 years, 3,033 (16.7%) aged 15 to 29, 7,701 (42.4%) aged 30 to 64, and 3,864 (21.3%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 90.0% European/Pākehā, 10.5% Māori, 1.5% Pacific peoples, 5.3% Asian, and 1.9% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 24.1%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 50.2% had no religion, 38.8% were Christian, 0.7% were Hindu, 0.2% were Muslim, 0.5% were Buddhist and 2.6% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 3,189 (21.9%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 2,637 (18.1%) people had no formal qualifications. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 7,218 (49.5%) people were employed full-time, 2,067 (14.2%) were part-time, and 396 (2.7%) were unemployed.

Individual statistical areas
Name Population Median age Median income
Cambridge North 1,737 39.9 years $44,200
Cambridge West 2,481 47.2 years $32,200
Cambridge East 2,808 40.7 years $34,300
Cambridge Park-River Garden 1,251 38.6 years $41,700
Oaklands-St Kilda 1,440 43.6 years $38,600
Cambridge Central 855 57.3 years $26,000
Leamington West 1,467 49.1 years $28,600
Leamington South 1,752 42.5 years $35,600
Leamington Central 2,406 34.3 years $31,800
Leamington East 1,983 42.9 years $34,500
New Zealand 37.4 years $31,800


National sports headquarters

Cambridge and nearby Lake Karapiro have become the homes for national sports organisations such as cycling (track, road, mountain biking and BMX), rowing, triathlon and as high performance centres for kayaking and canoeing.


The national Home of Cycling, the Avantidrome, was opened by William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on 12 April 2014. In December 2015, Cambridge hosted the 2015–16 UCI Track Cycling World Cup. There are also many cycle and walking tracks that have been purpose built around Cambridge. The 60 km (37 mi) Te Awa River Ride, from Ngāruawāhia to Karapiro, is planned to be fully open by the end of 2021. It currently has two paths open which are for cyclists and walkers. The purpose built track runs from the center of Cambridge out to the Avantidrome and follows the Waikato river. There is also a wide cycleway running from Leamington to Lake Karapiro Domain. Cambridge will host the New Zealand National Road Race Championships and the accompanying time trial between the years of 2020 and 2022 with an option for a fourth year, the event will take place in mid February.

Thoroughbred horse studs

The town is now well known for its Thoroughbred studs and stables, which have produced many champion horses in the sports of racing and show jumping. Cambridge is popularly known as the 'equine capital' of New Zealand. Internationally known thoroughbred studs in the area include:


Lake Karapiro, recognised as one of the premium rowing lakes in the world, is close by, producing several world rowing champions, notably Rob Waddell, Robbie Manson, the Evers-Swindell twins, Georgina and Caroline, Mahé Drysdale and James Dallinger. The 2010 World Rowing Championships were held at Lake Karapiro.

Rugby Union

Cambridge is home to two clubs, Hautapu Sports Club, founded in 1903, and Leamington Rugby Sports Club, founded in 1897.


Cambridge is home to Cambridge FC who were the 2017 and 2015 Waikato Bay of Plenty Premiership champions, and Waipa Sports Club of the Year in 2014 and 2015.


Cambridge High School is the town's co-educational state secondary school for Year 9 to 13 students, with a roll of 1748 as of April 2023. Cambridge Middle School is the town's intermediate school for Year 7 to 10 students, with a roll of 660.

The town has three state primary schools for Year 1 to 6 students: Cambridge East School with a roll of 387; Cambridge School, with a roll of 373; Leamington School, with a roll of 517.

Cambridge also has two non-state schools with similar names. St. Peter's School is a co-educational Anglican private (independent) school for Year 7 to 13 students, with a roll of 1218. St Peter's Catholic School is a co-educational Catholic integrated primary school for Year 1 to 8 students, with a roll of 178.

Notable residents

Past or present residents include:

  • Kylie Bax, Model and actress
  • Hamish Bond, MNZM, Rower, Olympic gold medallist
  • Kenny Cresswell, member of 1982 All Whites (football)
  • Members of The Datsuns Rock Band
  • Mahé Drysdale, MNZM, Rower, Olympic gold medallist
  • Katie Duncan, international footballer and Olympian
  • Matthew Dunham, World Champion silver medallist in rowing
  • Allyson Gofton, cooking writer and television presenter
  • Juliette Haigh, World Champion gold medallist in rowing
  • Nikki Hamblin, Middle distance runner and winner of Fair Play Award at 2016 Summer Olympics
  • Ricki Herbert, CNZM, former coach of New Zealand All Whites and international footballer.
  • Sir Patrick Hogan KNZM, CBE, Horse breeder
  • Nikita Howarth, Paralympic swimmer and gold medallist
  • Billy T. James, MBE, Entertainer and comedian
  • Sir Vaughan Jones, Fields Medal winner
  • Joelle King, Squash player
  • Dick Myers, All Black (played for Leamington RFC)
  • Eric Murray, MNZM, rower, Olympic gold medallist
  • Ritchie Pickett, country music singer/songwriter
  • Ken Rutherford, MNZM, International cricketer and horse racing club manager
  • Wayne Smith, CNZM, All Black and assistant coach of World Cup winning All Blacks in 2011 and 2015
  • Joel Tobeck, Actor
  • Sarah Walker, Olympic silver medallist in BMX
  • Sir Mark Todd, equestrian double Olympic gold medallist
  • Sarah Ulmer, World Champion and Olympic gold medallist cyclist
  • Rob Waddell, Olympic gold medallist in rowing
  • Chris Wood, international footballer and All Whites captain

Cambridge was also the birthplace of All Black Sir Colin Meads KNZM MBE; George Albert Tuck (1884–1981), a notable New Zealand builder, soldier and diarist; artist Frances Irwin Hunt 1890–1981) and educationalist Blanche Eleanor Carnachan, MBE, (1871–1954).

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