More to town than hob­bits

Matamata Chronicle - - Welcome To Matamata -

You are no doubt aware that Mata­mata has a strong con­nec­tion with the Lord of the Rings as the Hob­biton seg­ments of the movies were filmed lo­cally.

Be­cause of this, the num­ber of vis­i­tors to Mata­mata has in­creased from an av­er­age of 50,000 a year, to 360,000 in 2004.

Es­ti­mated vis­i­tor num­bers for 2011 are around 250,000.

‘‘Since the launch of the Lord of the Rings movies and the sub­se­quent open­ing of the Hob­biton Movie Set Tours, Mata­mata has be­come a pop­u­lar vis­i­tor des­ti­na­tion, at­tract­ing peo­ple from all over the world,’’ said man­ager of the Mata­mata Pub­lic Re­la­tions As­so­ci­a­tion Sue Whit­ing.

‘‘It has put Mata­mata on the world map. We ex­pect the re­lease of The Hob­bit later this year will at­tract even greater num­bers of vis­i­tor to our town. We have so much to of­fer.’’

Nes­tled at the base of the scenic Kaimai Ranges, in the heart­land of the Waikato, Mata­mata em­bod­ies the essence of ru­ral New Zealand.

Mata­mata has a strong dairy farm­ing her­itage.

It is also renowned in­ter­na­tion­ally for its thor­ough­bred horse in­dus­try. Ex­pe­ri­ence some spe­cial mo­ments in Mata­mata, such as an early morn­ing visit to the lo­cal race track to see some of New Zealand’s finest race horses out train­ing. As the sun rises over the hori­zon and the Kaimai Ranges emerge from dark­ness, the track comes alive with horses, jock­eys and train­ers.

Ms Whit­ing said it was a spec­tac­u­lar sight to see the horses train­ing at day­break, par­tic­u­larly on a misty morn­ing.

About 500 horses train be­tween 5am and 7am, six morn­ings a week, at the all­weather track.

An­other spec­ta­cle is the Wairere Falls set amongst the beau­ti­ful bush of the Kaimai Ranges.

The first stage of the 1.8 kilo­me­tre track passes through nikau, puriri and ko­hekohe be­fore reach­ing the look­out plat­form with its im­pres­sive view of the falls.

The re­ward at the end of the sec­ond stage (a fur­ther 45 min­utes walk) is a breath­tak­ing view of the en­tire dis­trict.

Peace­ful, re­lax­ing walks can also be en­joyed in the ur­ban cen­tre.

Mata­mata’s colo­nial his­tory is on dis­play at the Firth Tower Es­tate and Mu­seum.

At this his­tor­i­cal land­mark on Tower Rd, vis­i­tors are of­fered an in­sight into the area’s colo­nial farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

A round of golf is al­ways on the cards at the all­weather, free drain­ing 18-hole Mata­mata Golf Club or the at­trac­tive Wal­ton Golf Club.

Re­lax af­ter­wards with a soak at Opal Hot Springs, just 6km out of Mata­mata.

Set within six hectares of park-like grounds are three hot nat­u­ral min­eral pools. The i-SITE Vis­i­tor Cen­tre serves as the de­par­ture point for the Hob­biton

Pop in: The team at Mata­mata i-SITE Cen­tre will be more than happy to help you.

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