Tourism hot spots booming

SIENA YATES
Last updated 05:00 04/01/2013

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The holiday season has upped the foot traffic through Waikato's tourism hot spots by the thousands - and it's only going to get busier.

Off the back of The Hobbit, tourism in Matamata is booming as expected, with iSite manager Sue Whiting calling the town the "top tourist destination of New Zealand, this summer".

"It's just the place to be. We're getting about 750 people through our doors a day but sometimes there's just too many to count. It's literally standing room only. It's wonderful and I would expect it to stay that way throughout the year," she said.

George Helms, who manages Opal Hot Springs just outside Matamata, has witnessed huge growth over last year's holiday season and, "it's never been so busy".

"We've had a full camp for days now, about 250-300 people at a time. Yesterday morning the park cleaned out and by last night it was full again. We've never been anywhere near this. I don't know why, but it's great," he said.

But the tourists aren't all coming from overseas, or even out of city.

Hamilton Zoo curator, Samantha Kudeweh said they have seen the usual rise in holiday visitors admitting roughly 800 people each day, but it's Waikato folk who are the main clientele.

Otherwise, it was mostly families making day trips from nearby places like Rotorua, Tauranga or, like Betty Hii, Huikung Lau and son Jonathan Lau, visiting from as nearby as Auckland.

The family stopped at the zoo as part of a Waikato tourism round-trip, visiting Waterworld, the Zealong Tea Estate, and shopping at Centre Place and The Base, with plans to visit Hobbiton and return to the Hamilton Gardens on their next visit.

"We've got a few days off, so we just came down and it's really good," they said.

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- Waikato Times

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