OPINION: Hamilton set for a hell of a New Year: Hamilton is set to be New Zealand's top New Year's destination yet again in 2040.
The construction of Hamilton's 32nd Irish pub at the site of the historic Countdown supermarket at the north end of Victoria St means Hamilton's main street is now bars from beginning to end.
"We now have more bars than many towns do residents," said the mayor of Hamilton proudly.
"We are also the only town where the local council is wholly owned by the bar industry."
In the early 21st century, Hamilton was commonly held to be a dire New Year's destination.
People left the city in droves, desperate to escape.
However, Hamilton's increasingly desperate attempts to rebrand itself finally paid dividends with a 2034 rebrand as "Hamilton: City of Alcohol".
Garden Place was transformed into "Party Central", a name it proudly bears today.
The city swiftly became a haven for revellers, merry-makers and alcoholics of all kinds.
"What happens in Hamilton, stays in Hamilton", became a popular saying.
"To be honest, we were already pretty booze-friendly as far back as 2012, with the binge-drinking culture and ridiculous number of bars," said a former resident, who relocated to Otara after his home unexpectedly became a bar.
"But I guess we just didn't know how far it was going to go."
Ring Road problem perplexes pundits: A lack of traffic and ballooning maintenance costs on Hamilton's road network has left local and national government authorities scrambling to find a solution.
The Hamilton City Council is now calling for public submissions on what to do with the Hamilton Ring Road, which opened to much fanfare in 2012.
Contemporary reports described a "picnic-like atmosphere" as families took time to stroll excitedly along kilometres of featureless, baking-hot asphalt.
Now, the Ring Road lies cracked, broken and covered in graffiti, used mostly by occasional pedestrians and cyclists.
Every now and then a bus, electric car or petrol-fuelled tuk-tuk will pick its way through the potholes, en route to one of Hamilton's eight train stations.
"There's lots of things we could do," suggested the mayor of Hamilton brightly. "We could have a big mural. Imagine it - Hamilton, City of Alcohol, written in great big letters, visible from zeppelins, or even space. It'll really put Hamilton on the map."
Public suggestions included the construction of a solar water heating plant, or the world's largest roller-disco.
Others called for the asphalt to be stripped down and used on house roofs, or in the construction of coastal levees in Auckland.
The mayor of Hamilton was said to be in secret talks with High Voltage Racing to bring one of the High Voltage races to the Ring Road, but city councillors warned that Hamilton's hosting of road races had traditionally ended badly.
Expressway officially insignificant: The former Waikato Expressway was today demoted to a "Road of National Insignificance", and will face downsizing to a two-lane highway after the opening of the second Main Trunk Rail Freight Line.
The Waikato Expressway was one of the former National government's "Roads of National Significance", which were fast-tracked by Minister for Everything Steven Joyce to "get the economy pumping".
The Waikato Expressway proved extremely useful at reducing travel times to and from Auckland by almost 20 minutes on a good day, but this stopped mattering much after it became too expensive to drive.
Co-Prime Minister Gareth Hughes said: "We told you so."
However, a spokesperson for the Historic Vehicles Trust said the Expressway must remain open for petrol, hybrid and electric traffic.
"Petrol might be $10 a litre but there will always be people who appreciate petroleum-driven vehicles, and it's important that we preserve a place to drive them," she said.
Waikato lake achieves sentience, say scientists:
After more than a century of pollution, several Hamilton lakes may be on the verge of self-awareness, say scientists.
"We're actually pretty sure that Lake Rotoroa became sentient in the early 21st century," said one scientist.
"But now we're quite sure.
"This is far from a good thing," he added.
The lake was cordoned off earlier this week after passers-by reported hearing an entrancing voice in their heads when walking near the lake's edge.
"Come to me" and "Dance, dance in the deep", the lake has been reported saying.
Several joggers have complained this constitutes sexual harassment. However, any action taken will depend on the outcome of a United Nations General Assembly vote on whether the lakes are in fact intelligent creatures, local authorities say.
- © Fairfax NZ News