Between November and April, it’s time to stop and smell the roses in Te Awamutu. This rural town has the ideal climate for fabulous blooms.

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Te Awamutu calls itself the ‘Rose Capital of New Zealand’. During the blooming season, November to April, the garden next to the visitor centre is a technicolour dream as 2000 rose bushes turn on the charm.

Te Awamutu also has an excellent museum, with a large collection of Maori treasures and stories from the Waikato land wars. A display about local music heroes Tim and Neil Finn (Split Enz and Crowded House) is another drawcard.

A number of great walking tracks are on offer in and around Te Awamutu. Head east to Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and explore this inland island reserve which features a 16 metre high forest canopy viewing tower, a 600 year old rata tree and flourishing native bird species. Or head west to Pirongia, another beautiful reserve with ample hiking opportunities.

 If you’ve interested in rock climbing, the nearby Wharepapa South area is a climber’s paradise for those with experience.