We’re the best

Waikato Times - - Front Page - RUBY NYIKA

Eat our dust, Auck­land, Welling­ton, Christchurch – even Queen­stown.

Waikato has been crowned New Zealand’s most hos­pitable district in a hos­pi­tal­ity in­dex un­veiled by Airbnb.

Chatty lo­cals, stun­ning coun­try­side and Hob­biton – not beaches, ski­fields, or bars – win over those trav­el­ling the coun­try.

The study was based on the num­ber of five-star re­views in New Zealand and Aus­tralian des­ti­na­tions. All re­gions were mea­sured, but five stars from places with more than 1000 trips in the last 12 months were in­cluded.

The ru­ral Waikato town of Mata­mata took out the top spot for the most hos­pitable in the coun­try, fol­lowed closely by Cam­bridge, just south of Hamil­ton.

Kerik­eri came in third, so even North­land beat out the so­phis­ti­cated cities.

In New Zealand, the year-onyear guest vis­its in­creased 112 per cent, tak­ing ad­van­tage of more than 37,000 Airbnb listings.

But none of New Zealand’s cities fea­tured on the top 10 hos­pitable des­ti­na­tions.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako District Mayor Jan Barnes said she was de­lighted to hear Mata­mata was up there.

New Zealan­ders are gen­er­ally hos­pitable peo­ple, Barnes said, ‘‘par­tic­u­larly in Mata­mata – we’re in­ter­ested in peo­ple. We’re very friendly . . . We like a con­ver­sa­tion. I would have thought we were right up there. But it’s like win­ning gold, isn’t it?

‘‘They’re re­ally happy to of­fer hos­pi­tal­ity and have peo­ple in their homes. We have some­thing to be proud of here. ‘‘Hob­biton is a great hook. ‘‘Peo­ple do go to Hob­biton and then go, look at the coun­try­side! It’s beau­ti­ful! Then they want to go out to Wairere Falls. It’s be­come a very pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion.’’

It’s an ideal spot, Barnes said. ‘‘You can go to the lakes, beaches or you can even go snow ski­ing. So we’re a pretty good re­gion to be go­ing through, and of course, it’s a won­der­ful town.’’

Wairere Falls is the high­est wa­ter­fall in the North Is­land and is reg­u­larly listed in guide books.

Big cities didn’t do well across the ditch, ei­ther.

Tam­borine Moun­tain in Queens­land took out the most hos­pitable des­ti­na­tion in Aus­tralia.

Airbnb Aus­tralia and New Zealand coun­try man­ager Sam McDon­agh said it’s no sur­prise that Aus­tralia and New Zealand are rated so highly.

‘‘Airbnb pro­vides elas­tic sup­ply of ac­com­mo­da­tion out­side tra­di­tional tourism hotspots,’’ McDon­agh said. ‘‘And guests are tak­ing up the op­por­tu­nity to live like lo­cals trav­el­ling to and stay­ing in re­gional des­ti­na­tions and rat­ing those ex­pe­ri­ences highly.’’

PHOTO: KELLY HODEL/STUFF

Mata­mata – the home of Hob­biton – is the most hos­pitable place in New Zealand, ac­cord­ing to new Airbnb data (file photo).

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