Set amid the lush pastures of eastern Waikato, 23km east of Cambridge, Matamata is known for its gracious Edwardian character. The town is one of the world's premier thoroughbred centres and has produced many champions. There are facilities for swimming, squash, bowls, croquet, gymnastics, athletics and golf, and the town also has a nationally known racecourse.

Just 6.5km east of Matamata are the popular Opal Hot Springs and the town's 18-hole golf course. Fishing is good in the surrounding area with rainbow trout plentiful in the lower Waihou River. There are good spots for shooting duck, pheasant and quail, and many walking tracks through the nearby Kaimai-Mamaku Ranges. The Hobbiton set for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy was built on a sheep farm outside Matamata, and Tolkien fans can take tours to view the remnants of the set.