The river

The Insider's Guide to New Zealand - - NORTH ISLAND -

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.

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