Tourists told Hamilton the place to party
By BRUCE HOLLOWAY - Waikato Times | Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Raglan is "New Zealand's best-looking town", Te Aroha has "a good vibe", and Cambridge is "an altogether pleasant place to work on your 'rah-rah' voice".

But the 14th edition of Lonely Planet's New Zealand guide, due for release next month, is less complimentary about Matamata and Te Awamutu.

"Unless you're a Finn fan you'll probably be content to stop here on your way to somewhere else," the 756-page guide says of Te Awamutu.

Of Matamata, Lonely Planet says: "There's not a lot of point visiting unless you're a hobbit-botherer".

"During the filming (Lord of the Rings) Matamata was a great place to live if you were short and chubby-cheeked 300 locals got work as extras (hairy feet weren't a pre-requisite)."

Whangamata's review could be interpreted as good or bad depending on how you see these things. "While Auckland's socially ambitious flock to Pauanui, the city's young and horny head to Whangamata to surf, get stoned and hook up."

As for Hamilton, Lonely Planet says "something strange" has happened.

"Perhaps it's a sign of the rising fortunes of Waikato farmers 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."

Among the recommended establishments are Scotts Epicurean ("A gorgeous joint") and Rodeo Rodeo ("This cheesy bar goes off on the weekend").

Cubbyhole is touted as the spot for "watching the parade of boy-racers on the street below with a cocktail in hand," while Diggers, The Bank and The Cook are also recommended.

Elsewhere, Paeroa is described as "an elaborate Kiwi in-joke" and Kawhia "basically Raglan and Hot Water Beach rolled into one, but without the tourists".

Waihi, the guide notes, "isn't a complete hole, but it's in danger of becoming one".

Peter Dragicevich, managing editor of Auckland's Express newspaper, authored the Coromandel and Waikato sections of the guide, while contributing authors included former All Black Josh Kronfeld, and former Green MP Nandor Tanczos.

HOW THE LONELY PLANET SEES THE WAIKATO:

HAMILTON: "A sophisticated and vibrant stretch of bars and eateries... leaves Auckland's Viaduct Harbour for dead."

TE AWAMUTU: "Unless you're a Finn fan you'll probably be content to stop here on your way to somewhere else."

CAMBRIDGE: "An altogether pleasant place to work on your ‘rah-rah' voice."

MATAMATA: "There's not a lot of point visiting unless you're a hobbit-botherer."

PAEROA: "The fact that its beloved fizzy drink is now owned by global monster Coca-Cola Amatil and produced in Auckland only serves to make the ubiquitous L&P branding on every shopfront even more darkly ironic."

From here.