Let's live in ... Matamata
The land of Hobbits is also one of the most central, characterful rural towns our fair country has to offer ...
Why should I move there?
You might want to join the Aucklanders pretending to be farmers on lifestyle blocks or retiring to newly built villas, as they make up roughly 40 per cent of those buying real estate in Matamata.
The rural town at the foot of the Kaimai Ranges has escaped the mundanity that many provincial rural towns suffer by embracing all things Lord of the Rings.
Big city types know they can sell their homes in Auckland and join the population of over 7000 by buying a house, or two or three, and have money in the bank to retire in a town that boasts racing stars like jockey Lance O'Sullivan, as well as many trainers. The town is also strong economically thanks to the dairy industry.
A three bedroom house in Matamata would average at $355,000 and sell pretty quickly; real estate companies in the township would struggle to sell more than one property over $500,000 a month. Villas in new sub-divisions have been snapped up.
Some Aucklanders are escaping the rat race and the traffic and buying in Matamata to work from home too.
There are some real farmers who do buy dairy farms or racing stables or breeding studs, with their immaculate wooden fences and hedges, too.
Why it's not for everyone
What's not to love? Too many mentions of hobbits perhaps, as the local i-Site was redesigned to look like a hobbit home. The staff there re-direct thousands of tourists and Kiwis alike to the nearby Hobbiton movie set from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It is set up as seen in the new films, The Hobbit series.
What's the transport like?
There are buses throughout the day to Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua (as well as to Hobbiton). There is a local taxi service but no passenger train service.
There are 10 primary schools to choose from, including two Christian schools. There is one intermediate and one secondary school, Matamata College.
Matamata has all your typical sports clubs, rugby and netball, as well as football and golf to name a few.
The Matamata Sports Centre has indoor and outdoor pools. You can explore the great outdoors by checking out the three walking tracks or hunting in the Kaimai Range and then soak your tired muscles in the Opal Hot Springs.
If history cranks your wheels then check out the local museum at the Firth Estate.
The town, uniquely, has it own hospital - Pohlen: the private 33-bed hospital is partially funded by a fundraising trust. It takes care of its community by providing services and facilities for everything from childbirth to palliative care.
Where to eat
There is your typical kiwi kai - bakery food, takeaways and pub grub - and then there are a few eating places that do it a bit differently. One such place encourages you to buy some food and gain access to the Hobbit Dress-Up Box, there are also a few Asian eateries.
We'd love to live here - hello pool and tennis court - have a spare $845,000?
Notables from Matamata
The list of notables from Matamata is long and funnily enough, includes a number of current MPs such as Judith Collins, Lindsay Tisch and Sue Moroney.
A number of big sporting names also call Hobbiton home, including Lance O'Sullivan, Casey Kopua and Tim Mikkelson.
Dame Catherine Tizard also hails from the Waikato town.
What the locals say
Bev Coupe and her husband have been living in Matamata for 14 years now after they moved down from Auckland.
''We moved from Papakura and previous to that we had 28 years in Manurewa, we always passed through Matamata when going anywhere and we thought when we retire we are going to come to Matamata.
''It's a good place, very pretty and it's so central. Our family said we could go no further than an hour and a half's drive away and it is. It seemed opportune.''
Tessa Chapman is a self-confessed Lord of the Rings nerd and thinks someone would move to Matamata for the ''Lord of the Rings stuff, obviously.''
''My parents, my whole family are here. I haven't decided what I'm studying so haven't really had a reason to move. It's just a good little town usually.
''I know a lot of my friends live in the city and it's a lot more expensive for them to live there than it was for them when they lived here, so some of them are going to move back here. Some of them might just for the living expenses, once they've studied.''
Glen Arnold was born in Matamata but lived away for many years.
''It's a good little town and the older you get you need security. I'm blind, but I can walk around because it's flat.
''Everybody is very pleasant and you sort of know everyone, even if you don't know their name, you know them.
''We're in the centre of things. I used to say when I had overseas visitors, we're less than an hour to Tauranga, less than an hour to Hamilton, an hour to Rotorua and Auckland's only an hour and a half, if you speed.''