Could re­gion be envy of NZ?

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By CHRIS GARD­NER

Mata­mata war­ranted a men­tion in the lat­est New Zealand edition of The Lonely Planet – in fact, Waikato over­all has come up trumps.

‘‘If the colour green had a home­land this would be it,’’ wrote Brett Atkin­son, Sarah Bennett, Peter Drag­ice­vich, Charles Rawl­ingsWay and Lee Slater of the re­gion.

Of Mata­mata they said: ‘‘Most tourists . . . are ded­i­cated hob­bit­both­er­ers: for ev­ery­one else there’s a great cafe, av­enues of ma­ture trees and un­du­lat­ing green hills.’’

They also said Hamil­ton leaves Auck­land’s Viaduct Har­bour for dead when it comes to night life.

‘‘Land­locked cities in the is­land na­tion will never have the glam­orous ap­peal of their coastal cousins ... Hamil­ton and Palmer­ston North, de­spite ma­jes­tic rivers, are left clutch­ing short straws.

‘‘How­ever, some­thing strange has hap­pened in Hamil­ton. The city’s main street has sprouted a so­phis­ti­cated and vi­brant stretch of bars and eater­ies . . . that – on the week­end at least – leave Auck­land Viaduct Har­bour for dead in the boozy fun stakes.’’

The rest of the re­gion also stars with Te Kuiti, the shear­ing cap­i­tal of the world, be­ing de­scribed as ‘‘ cute’’ and sit­ting in a val­ley be­tween pic­turesque hills.

Port Waikato is a ‘‘pe­tite vil­lage’’, Raglan ‘‘ New Zealand’s per­fect surf­ing town’’ and Te Aroha ‘‘has a great vibe’’.

‘‘You could even say that it’s got ‘ the love’ which is the mean­ing of the name.’’ Other no­table men­tions in­clude: Ran­giriri Ho­tel: ‘‘a cheery spot for lunch.’’

Te Awa­mutu: ‘‘a real work­ing town with real work­ing peo­ple liv­ing in it – agrar­ian in­tegrity by the bucket load.’’

Kawhia: ‘‘Along with re­sist­ing cul­tural an­ni­hi­la­tion, Kawhia has avoided large-scale de­vel­op­ment, re­tain­ing its sleepy fish­ing-vil­lage vibe.’’

Otoro­hanga:

‘‘ One

of

lit­eral

sev­eral non­de­script North Is­land towns to adopt a gim­mick, Otoro­hanga’s main street is fes­tooned with im­ages of cher­ished Ki­wiana icons . . . But gim­micks aside, the Kiwi House is well worth a visit.’’

Wait­omo Caves: ‘‘If damp, dark tun­nels sound like your idea of hell, take a chill pill and head to Wait­omo any­way.’’

Tau­marunui: ‘‘this town in the heart of the King Coun­try has po­ten­tial.’’

Owhango: ‘‘a cosy base for walk­ers, moun­tain bik­ers and skiers.’’

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