Walking on sunshine


Nicola Greenwell

I love summer in the Waikato and this year has been particularly good.

The region has benefited from better weather and more international and domestic visitors than last year, which, in addition to providing a boost to local tourism operators, adds extra vibrancy to our towns and city.

We were already seeing evidence of a great summer for tourism back in October, with visitors spending $148 million across the region during the month.

While we don’t yet have the figures for November or December at the time of writing, the momentum appears to have continued to build, with tourism operators reporting strong numbers and a diverse range of visitors.

Some attractions say they have exceeded daily visitation records, while others are operating at capacity and many more reporting strong bookings through to the end of the month.

Many Waikato tourism operators also report that more locals than usual are enjoying ‘staycations’ this year, making the most of our activities and experiences, as well as enjoying the natural attractions, cycling and walking trails we have across the region.

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism’s upcoming campaign encourages domestic travellers to make the most of the magic of the Waikato by extending their summer holidays into autumn and right up to Easter and the April school holidays. It targets people from some of our key drive and fly markets, focusing on the wide range of things to see and do in the region and aims to help lengthen the summer season for operators.

Events are an important driver for visitation to our region and a strong events line-up through until the end of March is adding to Waikato’s magic.

Foodies can head along New Zealand’s biggest barbeque festival, Meatstock, or the New Zealand Cheese Festival; while families might like to check out Wharenui Harikoa – a meeting house entirely crocheted by hand – at Waikato Museum. There’s also the Hamilton Arts Festival Toi Ora ki Kirikiriroa, 10 days filled with performing arts from music to theatre to comedy and cabaret.

Hamilton Arts Festival headline act Bic Runga. Photo: Tom Grut.

The Balloons over Waikato festival is coming up too and sports fans are also well catered for, with international cricket and polo, Waka Ama, showjumping and the Z Manu World Champs being held in the region in February, while March sees events like Motofest and the Middle-Earth Halfling Marathon.

Balloons over WaikatoEach event contributes economically and socially to the community it takes place in – the dollars spent directly at the event, or pre and post on the likes of accommodation and eateries, help provide business income and employment for our people with flow-on of expenditure going into our wider communities. Events also build local pride, develop legacy benefits and help promote our region’s brand while media opportunities presented by key events help to shine a light on the region as an attractive destination for potential visitors and drive future travel.

I’m looking forward to getting along to as many of these events as possible and hope to see many of you there.

  • Nicola Greenwell is the Chief Executive of Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

About Author

Nicola Greenwell

Interim General Manager, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism