Landlocked cities in an island nation are never going to have the glamorous appeal of their coastal cousins. Rotorua compensates with boiling mud and Taupo has its lake, but Hamilton, despite the majestic Waikato River, is more prosaic.
However the city definitely has appeal. The main street has vibrant bars around Hood St and Victoria St, and factor in excellent restaurants and cafes, and you're guaranteed to eat really well in the city after visiting highlights like the Hamilton Gardens.
Oddly, the great grey-green greasy Waikato River rolls right through town, but the city’s layout largely ignores its presence: unless you’re driving across a bridge you’ll hardly know it’s there.