Cambridge, New Zealand

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Kemureti (Māori)
Coordinates: 37°53′S 175°28′E / 37.883°S 175.467°E / -37.883; 175.467Coordinates: 37°53′S 175°28′E / 37.883°S 175.467°E / -37.883; 175.467
CountryNew Zealand
Territorial authorityWaipa District
 • Total26.67 km2 (10.30 sq mi)
 (June 2021)[1]
 • Total21,400
 • Density800/km2 (2,100/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 21,400,[1] 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.[2][3] It was awarded the title New Zealand's Most Beautiful Large Town in October 2019.[4]


Hamilton, Puketaha & Cambridge war memorials

Prior to the arrival of Europeans there were a number of Maori in the vicinity of what would become Cambridge.[5] In the 1850s missionaries and farmers from Britain settled in the area and introduced modern farming practices to local Maori, helping them set up two flour mills and importing grinding wheels from England and France.[6] During the 1850s, wheat was a profitable crop but when merchants in Auckland began purchasing cheaper grain from Australia the market went into decline.[citation needed]

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.[7]

Electric street lights were first switched on in 1922.[8]

The Waikato River, located in Cambridge.


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [9]

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.[9]

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


Cambridge clock tower

Cambridge is administered by the Waipa District Council. It is the largest town in the District, but not the seat of the council, which is at Te Awamutu.

Nationally, Cambridge is part of the Taupō general electorate and the Hauraki-Waikato Māori electorate.[10]


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[11] in the Waipa District. The tourism industry supports 12.7% of jobs in Waipa District.[12] The equine industry provides more than 600 jobs in the Waikato, with many based in and around Cambridge.[13] It is estimated that one in five Cambridge residents work in nearby Hamilton.[14]


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.[15]

A public bus service connects Cambridge with central Hamilton via Tamahere and Waikato University several times daily.[16]

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.[17] The wharf was near the Karapiro Stream,[18] where the river was wide enough for steamers to turn.[19]

Rural districts[edit]

There are a number of nearby rural districts which identify socially and economically with Cambridge. These districts would typically have a few hundred residents, a primary school and a community hall for local social events. In the early 20th century, many of these districts also had their own small milk processing factories. These districts are Bruntwood, Goodwood/Fencourt, Hautapu, Hora Hora, Karapiro, Kaipaki, Maungatautari, Te Miro, and Whitehall.


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.[20]


The national Home of Cycling, the Avantidrome, was opened by William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on 12 April 2014.[21] 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,[22] from Ngāruawāhia to Karapiro, is planned to be fully open by the end of 2021.[23] 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.[24]

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.[25] 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,[26] and Waipa Sports Club of the Year in 2014 and 2015.[27]


Cambridge and the surrounding district is host to many sporting, cultural and trade events. More than 120,000 visitors attend the National Agricultural Fieldays[28] 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.[29]

Cambridge's local annual event is the Battle of the Bridges, a rugby and netball competition between the two sports clubs in Cambridge, Leamington and Hautapu, however the trophy is awarded to the winning team in the rugby match. The event takes place in August each year. The first ever match between the two sides, in 2013, ended in a 0–0 draw.[30]


Switch FM is a local radio station.

Cambridge also has two local newspapers, the Cambridge News[31] and the Cambridge Edition.[32]

There is also a lively Facebook page that is used to share and request information and resources.[33]


Cambridge High School is the town's co-educational state secondary school for Year 9 to 13 students,[34][35] with a roll of 1634 as of November 2021.[36] Cambridge Middle School is the town's intermediate school for Year 7 to 10 students,[37] with a roll of 726.[38]

The town has three state primary schools for Year 1 to 6 students: Cambridge East School[39][40] with a roll of 449;[41] Cambridge School,[42][43] with a roll of 407;[44] Leamington School,[45][46] with a roll of 572.[47]

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,[48][49] with a roll of 1213.[50] St Peter's Catholic School is a co-educational Catholic integrated primary school for Year 1 to 8 students,[51][52] with a roll of 191.[53]

Notable residents[edit]

Past or present residents include:

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).


  1. ^ a b "Population estimate tables - NZ.Stat". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  2. ^ "Our town a beautiful finalist". Cambridge News. 15 October 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Beautiful Awards 2019". Keep New Zealand Beautiful. 14 August 2019. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  4. ^ "Cambridge awarded with title of most beautiful large town in New Zealand". Waikato Times/Stuff. 25 October 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Maoritanga - Cambridge New Zealand". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  6. ^ Parker, Sally K. (1986). Cambridge An illustrated history 1886-1986, p. 6. Cambridge Borough Council, Cambridge New Zealand. ISBN 0473003341.
  7. ^ Parker, Eris. "Military – Third Waikato Militia". Cambridge Museum. Archived from the original on 28 June 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  8. ^ "CAMBRIDGE'S PROGRESS. WAIKATO TIMES". 3 April 1922. Retrieved 4 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ a b "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Cambridge North (182600), Cambridge West (182700), Cambridge East (182800), Cambridge Park-River Garden (182900), Oaklands-St Kilda (183000), Cambridge Central (183200), Leamington West (183500), Leamington South (183700), Leamington Central (183800) and Leamington East (183900). 2018 Census place summary: Cambridge North 2018 Census place summary: Cambridge West 2018 Census place summary: Cambridge East 2018 Census place summary: Cambridge Park-River Garden 2018 Census place summary: Oaklands-St Kilda 2018 Census place summary: Cambridge Central 2018 Census place summary: Leamington West 2018 Census place summary: Leamington South 2018 Census place summary: Leamington Central 2018 Census place summary: Leamington East
  10. ^ "Find my electorate". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Dairy farming provides more than a tenth of all Waipa jobs". Cambridge Information Centre. Archived from the original on 6 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  12. ^ "New statistics highlight tourism value to Waikato region". Hamilton and Waikato Tourism. Archived from the original on 12 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  13. ^ "Cambridge is "Equine Capital of New Zealand"". Cambridge Information Centre. Archived from the original on 6 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  14. ^ "The People of Cambridge". Cambridge Information Centre. Archived from the original on 21 February 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Getting around". Cambridge Information Centre. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Busit!: Cambridge 20". Waikato Regional Council. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  17. ^ "CHILDREN'S HOLIDAY. WAIKATO INDEPENDENT". 7 January 1936. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  18. ^ "P.S. Manuwai at Cambridge Wharf". Hamilton Libraries Heritage Collection Online. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  19. ^ "Heritage Walk Waikato River" (PDF). Cambridge Museum.
  20. ^ "Canoe Racing High Performance Centre set for Karapiro". The New Zealand Herald. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  21. ^ "History of the Avantidrome". Home of Cycling Charitable Trust. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ "Te Awa River Ride will connect Hamilton to Cambridge by end of 2021". Stuff. 24 January 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  24. ^ "Elite & U23 National Championships". Cycling New Zealand. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  25. ^ "About Cambridge". Cambridge Information Centre. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  26. ^ "Reds clinch the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership title". Cambridge Football Club. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  27. ^ "History of Cambridge FC". Cambridge Football Club. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  28. ^ "National Fieldays". Cambridge Information Centre. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  29. ^ "Annual events". Cambridge Information Centre. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  30. ^ Smith, Jeremy (20 August 2013). "Teams battle out a scoreless draw". Cambridge Edition.
  31. ^ "Local News and Sports - Cambridge News". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  32. ^
  33. ^ "The Cambridge NZ Grapevine - Info Sharing Group". Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  34. ^ "Cambridge High School Official School Website".
  35. ^ "Cambridge High School Ministry of Education School Profile". Ministry of Education.
  36. ^ "Cambridge High School Education Review Office Report". Education Review Office.
  37. ^ "Cambridge Middle School Ministry of Education School Profile". Ministry of Education.
  38. ^ "Cambridge Middle School Education Review Office Report". Education Review Office.
  39. ^ "Cambridge East School Official School Website".
  40. ^ "Cambridge East School Ministry of Education School Profile". Ministry of Education.
  41. ^ "Cambridge East School Education Review Office Report". Education Review Office.
  42. ^ "Cambridge School Official School Website".
  43. ^ "Cambridge School Ministry of Education School Profile". Ministry of Education.
  44. ^ "Cambridge School Education Review Office Report". Education Review Office.
  45. ^ "Leamington School Official School Website".
  46. ^ "Leamington School Ministry of Education School Profile". Ministry of Education.
  47. ^ "Leamington School Education Review Office Report". Education Review Office.
  48. ^ "St Peter's School Official School Website".
  49. ^ "St Peter's School Ministry of Education School Profile". Ministry of Education.
  50. ^ "St Peter's School Education Review Office Report". Education Review Office.
  51. ^ "St Peter's Catholic School Official School Website".
  52. ^ "St Peter's Catholic School Ministry of Education School Profile". Ministry of Education.
  53. ^ "St Peter's Catholic School Education Review Office Report". Education Review Office.
  54. ^ "Football Fern makes triumphant return to where it all began". Cambridge Football Club. 16 September 2019.
  55. ^ "Allyson Gofton's 'Drug Baron's Mansion'". Stuff. 2 May 2019.


  • Reed, A. W. (2002). The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand Place Names. Auckland: Reed Books. ISBN 0-7900-0761-4.

External links[edit]