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Metropolitan Vibe

One of New Zealand’s fastest growing and most vibrant cities can be found in the heart of the Waikato region. It all comes with fantastic galleries and great shops, first-class eateries, and unmatched top events and the cities’ attractions.

Situated on the banks of the Waikato River is the region’s main metropolitan hub of Hamilton, with its rich cultural mix and lively centre which makes it a great place to experience the friendly Kiwi lifestyle.

A number of award winning dining options are on offer throughout the city and it’s modern urban eateries and cafes offer tourists a variety of tasty Asian and Mediterranean inspired cuisine.

Near the modern SkyCity Hamilton casino, in the southern end of central Hamilton lies the wine bars, pubs and clubs that really showcase local and imported beverages and an electric range of DJ’s and live bands. The wider regions of Hamilton offer world-class events from local to international.

This place is one of New Zealand’s leading event centres, with events such as the National Agricultural Fieldays, Gallagher Great Race, Festival One and Balloons Over Waikato. You will also witness many sporting matches, concerts, expos and more all making up the regions events calendar. There is always something happening all year round.

Just a short drive down SH1 is the charming town of Cambridge, which is known locally as the ‘Town of Champions’ due to its gold-medal winning Olympian residents and its long-standing heritage of thoroughbred racing. It adds to the mix with its great café scene and boutique-style vineyards which also includes the Mystery Creek Winery and Vilagrads Winery, on the city’s outskirts. You can relax over a glass or two of fine local wine.

If you wish to go shopping, you will definitely find everything you want in the Hamilton and Waikato region. The boutique stores throughout the city sell high-end products – from fashion to gifts. Here you will experience the Spanish-style Casabella Lane for its unique setting and gift stores. The city’s modern ‘Base’ shopping centre is one of the country’s largest shopping complex and covers a range of products from clothing to books and electronic goods.

And if you’re into antiques, boutique homewares and gift stores, then the towns of Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Te Aroha and Matamata  has all of it and more. There are also busy weekend markets, with local produce for sale along with arts, crafts and gifts.

The Waikato River, which is one of Hamilton city’s iconic features, can be enjoyed by simply taking a stroll or bike ride along its banks. If you wish to learn more about the city’s history and culture, you can take one of the Waikato River Cruise options.

They also offer a magical hot air balloon ride, wherein you will see the great views of the countryside. Every year the city celebrates the Balloons Over Waikato festival.

It is held over five days during autumn and attracts both local and overseas balloonists. In this event, you will experience and see dozens of spectacular hot air balloons floating above the city and region as part of the country’s premier ballooning festival. The Hamilton & Waikato region has perfect conditions for such activities.

When we talk about culture, the Hamilton & Waikato region has a thriving artistic community. If you can visit the Waikato museum, you will see a diverse range of art, interactive and historical exhibitions. The museum showcases the cultural heritage of the region as well as showing national and international exhibitions.

There is also the popular Hamilton Gardens which celebrates the history of gardens with an array of specialist gardens from Italian Renaissance to traditional Maori.

The Hamilton & Waikato region offers everything you want from a vibrant modern region, whether you’re into shopping, if you’re looking for fun, nightlife, great food, wine and arts – you could have it all in this place.

10 Tips To Find Airbnb Accommodation That Won’t Suck

Airbnb is an easy-to-use, beautifully designed website and app that has attracted loyal users from around the globe. It offers access to millions of places to stay, from apartments and villas to castles, treehouses and luxury homes.

When you open up the Airbnb app or website looking for the perfect place to stay for your next trip, it will show you hundreds of possibilities to choose from. The question now is, how do you make sure that you pick the right one? Of course you want to avoid those creepy hosts and rundown rooms, so here’s how to track down the perfect Airbnb accommodation for your next trip.

 

1) Be cautious

As much as Airbnb tries its best to safeguard and protect its listings, problems do crop up occasionally. Be very vigilant with hosts who have just signed up. If you think you have doubts you can directly contact the host through Airbnb to find out more about who you’re dealing with.

Watch out for photos that look like they have been swiped from a travel site and those listings that are cheap yet look luxurious. Be cautious –  it helps to know a few warning signs to avoid being scammed.

 

2) Look into the neighbourhood

In order to spot or identify a fraudulent listing it is a good idea to check out the neighbourhood. Look for restaurants and facilities in the area where you wanted to book your stay.

You can only get the exact address of an Airbnb once you book it, however, you can still get an idea of what kind of place you’re heading to. It is important to know the background of the place you are planning to stay in, like whether it is a safe area, the shops and the transport links.

 

3) Read all the reviews

Another way to know the place that you’re staying with is to check their ratings or reviews to get a broader picture of the place. It would be best to read all of the reviews, not just the top two or three reviews and the star ratings. You really need to read between the lines. Most of the issues tend to sneak into reviews since it will tell you if the host is attentive, if they go above and beyond, and if their home is noisy.

There are certain things you need – what are the amenities the place offers? Is there a fast internet connection? Are the neighbours friendly? Are there any problems with noise late at night? These are some of the specific issues that won’t be disclosed or mentioned in the description left by the host.

 

4) Search by trip type

On the Airbnb website or app it lets you filter down the results using different kinds of criteria, from the number of bedrooms to the facilities that are made available to you. There is also an option for you to select the Trip Type. When filtered, it lets you look for places suitable for families or for work trips.

In most cases, the Airbnb search engine will recommend places rated highly by other families and with facilities like a kitchen, TV, and washing machines. For work trips, Airbnb features such as a work desk and Wi-Fi. In this way it is useful in finding the right place to stay.

 

5) Check city regulations

Some cities are friendlier towards Airbnb listings. For example, if Airbnb listings are active in the area you’re scouting out, then they’re available to book, but you might run into problems with less-than-impressed neighbours or officers of the law.

Take some time looking at the current state of affairs between Airbnb and the city that you’re planning to stay with, because it might not match where you live.

 

6) Photos should be complete

You will probably not book your stay if there are no photos or missing photos in the listing. Photos are very important since it will tell you a lot about the place so think about the ones that are missing. It’s the same as buying a house – you will definitely want to see every picture of the house. It should show the outside, the bathroom, the bed, kitchen etc. to be able to consider if this is the perfect or right house for you. Please have in mind that the hosts of Airbnb are not all real estate professionals. A missing photo doesn’t necessarily indicate a dodgy staircase or run-down shower is being hidden, but it is something to look for. In this way it might help you decide which one to pick.

 

7) Build rapport with the host

You will have a Contact Host button in the Airbnb app or website right in the middle of each listing. If you have any queries about the place that aren’t covered in the description, then please do enquire. Do not assume that everything’s going to work out for the best.

One of the important part of Airbnb process is TRUST. If the host is slow in responding to your queries, then it’s better to look for another place elsewhere. If you build a rapport, you might get some preferential treatment and some extra local tips when you arrive.

 

8) Make use of the Save feature

Do not just rely on your memory to recall some of the favourite listings from the last search you did. Airbnb has a SAVE button that is displayed prominently in the app and on the web for you to use it.

It is much easier to compare different properties against each other when you’re doing it from a list rather than from the map. Additionally, you can split up saved places into separate lists, as well as share them with other Airbnb users.

 

9) Put your dates in first

Before you do anything else, put your dates in first if you already know the schedule of your trip. In this way, you will get a better idea about the prices and fees.

You need to be able to specify when you’re making the trip. You will get warnings of when listings are scarce too, which can be handy in knowing how quickly you need to book. If you think you have the flexibility, then better experiment the dates in either direction to see how the price changes.

 

10) Check the small print

You will probably be drawn to the photos and a description on a listing. Remember not to neglect the small print, like if pets are allowed, extra guests, the cancellation policy and when do you have to check in and out.

Also, do not assume something like Wi-Fi or a washer is included just because that’s what you’re used to at home. That is why it’s very important to scrutinize and go all the way through the description on the listing, and if you think there’s some information that you need to know, then you can directly ask the hosts about it.

Do this and you’ll find a great Airbnb to stay in.

Top 10 Things to do in Hamilton

Hamilton is a very well-known holiday destination for people looking to explore New Zealand. It offers various attractive and beautiful places to see and do in the city. Below are the top 10 picks for you to see and do around Hamilton.

Hamilton Gardens

A stunning, free attraction, Hamilton Gardens is a beautiful and an enchanting place to explore and relax. You will admire its superb sights that features various perfectly manicured collections. Among these splendid collections are the Indian Char Bagh Garden, Japanese Garden of Contemplation, Italian Renaissance Garden, the Productive Collection’s Te Parapara Garden, Herb Garden and Kitchen Garden, the Fantasy Collection’s Tudor Garden and Tropical Garden, the Cultivar Collection’s Rogers Rose Garden and Victorian Flower Garden, as well as the Landscape Collection’s Valley Work and Echo Bank Bush. The concept of having this garden is based in the Waikato that explores the context, history and the meaning of gardens through time. It is being recognized both locally and internationally because of its remarkable concept and is the Waikato’s most popular tourist destination. The garden is only 5 minutes drive from Hamilton’s CBD. It is open 7 days a week during daylight hours and parking is also free. Hamilton Gardens is indeed a great stop over for visitors of all ages.

Classics Museum

If you’re looking for a fantastic and classic car displays, then Classics Museum in Hamilton is the right choice. It displays over 60 superb classic car collections (from early 1900’s to early 1970’s). It also displays a few classic motorbikes and a variety of memorabilia such as signs, tins, petrol pumps, pedal cars and vintage pinball machines. Entrance fee is free for kids and $20 for adults. It has plenty of free parking onsite. It also offers an inspired 1950’s diner. Serving American classics, modern fare, child-friendly options and absolutely sumptuous coffee! The cafe menu has a good range of tasty food with a working vintage jukebox that has a fantastic sound. Come and visit the Classics Museum now!

Hamilton Lake Domain

A must have for all ages! Hamilton Lake Domain is a lovely recreation area which provides a great opportunity to walk the lake circuit, or sit down under a tree and watch the swans and other birds. It is a recreational facility within walking distance from the CBD. It provides a variety of land and water based activities such as yachting, wind surfing, canoeing, paddle boats, model boats, dragon boating, waka ama, raft racing and a range of informal activities like feeding ducks or fishing. This place indeed offers a distinctive ecological environment in the heart of Hamilton city. There is also a cafe, overlooking the lake. You will definitely enjoy having a cup of coffee in there, with your friends or family.

Taitua Arboretum

If you are looking for an enchanting and tranquil picnic spot, then Taitua Arboretum offers a relaxing retreat and an opportunity to escape from the bustle of city living.  It has a collection of mature trees that covers 20 hectares (49-acre) of woodland gardens, lakes and open pasture. It absolutely offers great views and wonderful bird life and is ideal for a family outing or strolling. It is also a great venue for couples who are planning to have their wedding held in an enchanting spot.  It is open 7 days a week from 8am to half an hour before sunset and admission is also for free. So, take a time to drop by and witness the beauty of nature!

Hamilton Zoo

A million years in the making, Hamilton Zoo is the largest zoo in the entire North Island and is home to over 600 native and exotic animals. The trees and gardens create a shade and the beautiful environment will surely lift your mood and soothe your soul. Enclosures are also carefully thought about for the animals, allowing for great viewing which will make your visit worthwhile and safe. You will also meet a keeper who will talk about the characters and personalities of the animals as well as their feeding and enrichment. So, if you need a break, then Hamilton Zoo is the perfect destination for a day out.

Waikato Museum

Situated on the banks of the mighty Waikato River and in the heart of Hamilton’s south-end cultural precinct is a world class and very artistic Waikato Museum. It has 13 galleries that features more than 25 new exhibitions and 100 public events annually. They have interactive programme that aims to engage and inspire the local and international visitors. Waikato Museum is also the best venue to host different events. If you wanted to know and experience the stories of Waikato’s arts, their history, culture and science, then visit the Waikato Museum from 10am – 5pm daily.

Waikato Stadium

Waikato Stadium is the home to the most iconic and major sporting and cultural events venue in Hamilton, New Zealand. This is a great choice for any event that aims to engage, inspire or celebrate. The stadium has a total crowd capacity of 25,000 and has five levels which are home to function spaces. These function spaces include corporate lounges, function lounges, the boardroom, management offices, player changing facilities, retail concessions and media facilities.

Lido Cinema

Lido Cinema is greatly known as Hamilton’s best cinema complex. This cinema always offers a great selection of movies including opera and drama. Snacks and drinks are available to have in the comfortable lounges. It offers a comfortable big seats or leather couches and a fantastic decor with chandeliers and soft music. It also has a classy carpet and drapes. This is definitely a great place to watch your favorite and current movie together with your loved ones.

Waitomo Caves

If you’re into adventure, then Waitomo Caves in the North Island of New Zealand is the best destination. It is approximately 2 hours and 40 mins drive from Auckland, 2 hours drive from Rotorua and 1 hour drive from Hamilton. The easiest way to see the cave is through walking or boat tour. A few of the highlights in Waitomo Caves are the glow worms, black water rafting and it is the location for Hobbit filming. You will enjoy the beautiful natural wonders such as Marokopa Falls and limestone Mangapohue bridge as well as seeing those fascinating rock forms.

Hamilton Today

Hamilton is located on the banks of the Waikato River. Due to the huge student population, the entertainment area is quite spirited and lively.

waikato stadium birds eye view hamilton nz
Waikato Stadium

Lonely Planet guide states that “the city’s main street has sprouted a sophisticated and vibrant stretch of bars and eateries that on the weekend at least leave Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour for dead in the boozy fun stakes.” Majority of the city’s venues and attractions are located on the old town belt that includes the Hamilton Gardens, Waikato Stadium, Seddon Park and the Hamilton Lake Domain.

The city of Hamilton continues to grow rapidly as of 2016, in which the development was focused on the northern end of the city. In 2012, the council has decided to balance the city’s growth by approving an urban development to the south. Traffic congestion is increasing due to population growth. The council has engaged in many road development projects to be able to keep up with the rapid growth.

The State Highway 1 which runs through the western and southern suburbs has a major junction with State Highway 3 apparently contributes congestion. The Hamilton City Council is building a ring road wherein it is extending the Wairere drive from Crosby road through to Cobham drive.

This Ring Road – Wairere Drive Extension will provide a major arterial corridor which is designed to take significant traffic flows and at the same time enabling more people to move around Hamilton now and in the coming days. Currently, the council is focusing on the final 400m section between Cambridge road and Cobham drive which includes the new intersection with Cobham drive intersection in order to complete the Hamilton Ring Road.

This project is funded in partnership with the New Zealand Transport Agency and is projected to have its completion by 2019.

rototuna hamilton
The suburb of Rototuna

Indeed, the rapid growth of Hamilton has resulted in urban sprawl wherein the north east of the city in the Rototuna area was greatly affected. More development is planned in the suburbs of Rototuna and Peacocke area. There has been a significant development of lifestyle to the Hamilton urban area, particularly the Tamahere and the Matangi areas.

 

Hamilton Climate

Hamilton has an oceanic or maritime climate due to the New Zealand’s location surrounded by ocean. During the months of January, February, March, November and December you will experience pleasant weather with a nice average temperature.

Most rainfall (rainy season) is seen in March, May, June, July, August, September and December. On average, the warmest month is February and the coolest month is July. The month of March is the wettest month and February is the driest.

Being the largest inland city in the country, winter mornings can be cold by New Zealand standards which is dropping as low as −4 °C (25 °F). Summers can be the hottest in the country with temperatures rising as high as 29 °C on an annual basis.

Hamilton features a very high humidity which can make temperatures feel uncomfortably warm or cold. Ground frosts are very common and there is a possible snow but very rare. As recorded, the only snowfall in modern times was light snowflakes that happened in mid-August of 2011 during a prolonged cold period.

Hamilton receives considerable precipitation around 1,100mm over 125 days per year. Hamilton and the surrounding Waikatoan are extremely fertile region since it is coupled with average sunshine hours of around 2000. Fog is also common during winter mornings, especially those area that is close to the Waikato river which runs through the city centre. Heavy fog usually burns off by noon to produce sunny and calm winter days.

With regards to wind speed, it has a lowest average due to its inland location.

 

City Attractions and Facilities

Hamilton is a geographically and culturally diverse area. It has a range of activities and attractions to suit all ages and tastes.

hamilton gardens
Hamilton Gardens

One of the region’s most popular tourist attraction is the Hamilton Gardens. This is the place where the Gardens Summer Festival hosted each year. It has gained an award-winning International Garden of the Year in 2014. It is also the most visited tourist attraction in the Waikato with approximately a million visits each year​.​​

Most people who visited the garden would say that the place is very stunning and immaculately presented. Next attraction is The Base – the second largest shopping centre which has over 7.5 million visitors per year across 190 stores. Te Awa which is an enclosed specialty retail mall at The Base was also awarded with silver medal by the International Council of Shopping Centres for the second -best expansion in the Asia Pacific region.

Among the other local attractions in the area includes the Hamilton Zoo, the Waikato Museum, the Hamilton Astronomical Society Observatory, the Arts Post art gallery, and the Sky City casino. Also, just 20 minutes’ drive away is Ngaruawahia, the location of Turangawaewae Marae and the home of Māori King Tuheitia Paki.

Hamilton has around six libraries that are located in Garden Place, St Andrews, Glenview, Chartwell, Hillcrest and Dinsdale. It has a great range of books and with more than 400,000 items on offer. This is the place to also relax, think and send your mind somewhere.

The Hamilton City Theatres hosts a wide range of events, including local, national and international concerts, performing arts events, live theatre, dance and festivals bringing in people from across the Waikato and beyond.

The St Peter’s Cathedral is the Anglican cathedral in Hamilton, located in the Waikato Region of North Island, built in 1916. On the opposite side of the river is the St. Mary’s Catholic cathedral.

The Hamilton Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is located atop a stately hill in the rural outskirts of Hamilton. It was built with a modern single-spire design which is very similar to the Bern Switzerland Temple. Every year, the temple hosts a large Christmas lighting show which attracts large crowds from all over the country.

Here you can find out more about the top 10 Hamilton attractions.

 

Hospitals

Waikato Hospital

waikato hospital
Waikato Hospital

Waikato Hospital is the regional hospital in Hamilton. It has around 600 beds and a staff of approximately 2,500 located between Melville and Hamilton West. Braemar Hospital and the Southern Cross hospital are the two major private hospitals in Hamilton city. Braemar Hospital is located in the same area that Waikato Hospital is located and the Southern Cross Hospital is located in Hamilton East.

Hamilton also has a two private primary maternity hospitals which are fully funded by the Waikato District Health Board, Waterford Birth Centre and River Ridge East Birth Centre. Lastly, in 2010, there was a new cancer hospital opened on the previous Braemar Hospital campus.