Let’s dispel that myth that you can’t see the river in Hamilton. Unlike its European sisters, the Seine, the Thames and the Tiber, the Waikato River doesn’t brag about its charms even though it is bigger, cleaner and better looking than all three. The river stretches 425 kilometres (twice the length of Melbourne’s muddy Yarra) through town and country, delivering power and sustenance to people and stock before crashing through the surf into the Tasman Sea. In Hamilton the river divides the east and west. It is spanned by seven bridges and flanked by more than 10 kilometres of wide, smooth paths. You can walk or cycle alongside it, play pooh sticks from one of the bridges, float down by boat or plunge from a cliff into the dark depths (the favourite – but not recommended – practice of local teenage boys and sometimes their dads). Even the nonactive can enjoy the river’s peaceful charms from a blanket on its grassy banks at dawn when a cotton-wool duvet of mist lifts from the water to the cheering quacks of ducks.