Hamilton for tourists
Hamilton is home to numerous well-known clothing designers, as a stroll down fashionable Barton Street will attest. This is also home to Riff Raff – the statue honouring former resident Rocky Horror Show creator, Richard O’Brien. It’s also the home of blues. Music lovers can still get their fix at regular events hosted by the city’s Blues Society which continues the great tradition of mentoring – and producing – some of the country’s best musicians. If getting the blues does not appeal, you’ll still find plenty of events, including the plethora on offer at the frequent events sponsored Hamilton’s famous gardens. The Hamilton Gardens include specialist gardens, including Te Parapara – New Zealand’s first traditional Maori garden, all in a breathtakingly beautiful lakeside area with a café and function centre. The gardens open at 7.30am year round. Parking is plentiful. But the quiet heart of this vibrant city is the river that flows right through it. The city once turned its back on the river and now city planners are bent on realising its great potential. Plans are underway to link Hamilton and nearby Cambridge by ferry. Meanwhile, the parks, walkways and cycleways that meander along the banks of the Waikato provide revealing glimpses of its history and future potential. If you’re looking for a beautiful lakes side setting closer to the city centre, Hamilton Lake Domain is the perfect place to park up and enjoy the locals and wildlife at play. In fact, lakes abound in the Waikato which is home to more than 100 lakes. The lakes, many of which are off the beaten track, are often hidden and hard to find. They are great places for cycling, fishing, boating skiing and walking. Many have lakeside parks where RVers can stay over for free, although there may be restrictions on the number of nights – or vehicles – allowed to stay at any one time. Also, while some have sealed car parks, others have uneven surfaces, which may not suit all vehicles. The Hamilton and Waikato region is a unique one, blessed with natural wonders that evoke an ancient New Zealand. From the famous black sand beaches in the west and bush-clad Mt Te Aroha in the east, to the region’s cultural heart in the north and the superb Waitomo Caves in the south, the region offers up a truly diverse natural wonderland.