The latest New Zealand edition of The Lonely Planet is out and the Waikato has come up smelling of, er, roses.
"If the colour green had a homeland this would be it," Brett Atkinson, Sarah Bennett, Peter Dragicevich, Charles Rawlings-Way and Lee Slater write of the region.
They also say Hamilton leaves Auckland's Viaduct Harbour for dead when it comes to nightlife.
"Landlocked cities in the island nation will never have the glamorous appeal of their coastal cousins . . . Hamilton and Palmerston North, despite majestic rivers, are left clutching short straws," they write.
"However, something strange has happened in Hamilton recently. The city's main street has sprouted a sophisticated and vibrant stretch of bars and eateries . . . that - on the weekend at least - leave Auckland Viaduct Harbour for dead in the boozy fun stakes."
The rest of the region also comes up trumps with Te Kuiti, the shearing capital of the world, being described as "cute" and sitting in a valley between picturesque hills.
Port Waikato is a "petite village", Raglan "NZ's perfect surfing town" and Te Aroha "has a great vibe".
"You could even say that it's got ‘the love' which is the literal meaning of the name."
Other notable mentions include:
Rangiriri Hotel: "a cheery spot for lunch".
Te Awamutu: "a real working town with real working people living in it - agrarian integrity by the bucket load."
Matamata: "Most tourists . . . are dedicated hobbit-botherers: for everyone else there's a great cafe, avenues of mature trees and undulating green hills."
Kawhia: "Along with resisting cultural annihilation, Kawhia has avoided large-scale development, retaining its sleepy fishing-village vibe."
Otorohanga: "One of several nondescript North Island towns to adopt a gimmick, Otorohanga's main street is festooned with images of cherished Kiwiana icons . . . But gimmicks aside, the Kiwi House is well worth a visit."
Waitomo Caves: "If damp, dark tunnels sound like your idea of hell, take a chill pill and head to Waitomo anyway."
Taumarunui: "this town in the heart of the King Country has potential."
Owhango: "a cosy base for walkers, mountainbikers and skiers."
Surfing at Manu Bay
Waitomo Caves rafting
City bridges river tour
Te Toto Gorge
- Waikato Times