Journey through the town of trees and be charmed by Cambridge. The town had a strong Māori history dating back to the 1400s before it was settled by Europeans as a military town 1864 following the New Zealand Land Wars.
Many of the terraces overlooking the Waikato River, then called Horotiu, were developed into gardens to support a large number of Māori villages. When the Waikato Expressway was built, a number of kōiwi (human remains) and other artefacts were discovered and reburied in consultation with iwi at a site called Puna Roimata. You can visit the site on Athlone Drive and learn more about Māori history of the area.
Cambridge was settled in 1864 as a military town for the 3rd Regiment of the Waikato Militia, following the New Zealand Land Wars. It was named after the Duke of Cambridge, who was commander and chief of the British Army at the time. Cambridge has maintained a strong English influence in its layout and architecture. The town was initially divided into two settlements on either side of the river and connected by a punt. Nowadays there is a bridge but the two sides of the river are still referred to as Cambridge and Leamington.
A fortified redoubt was built at the site of the current Cambridge museum covering 2.5 acres and able to hold 1,000 men. The redoubt was built in the shape of an eight sided star, but locals called it the Ten Star Redoubt after the 10 companies of the regiment. Nothing remains of the redoubt today.
The wealth of parks and trees around the town gave Cambridge its moniker as ‘town of trees’. Other much loved landmarks that give Cambridge its charm include the Town Hall, St Andrew’s Anglican Church and town clock.