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After our Historic Category 1 listed lodge Hadleigh fell to the quakes that devastated Christchurch 4 years ago, we spent a year in a rented beach bach at Waikanae coming to terms with our loss and settling the interminable wrangle with authorities. Our desire was to replicate that which had drawn us South. Principally we wanted a beautiful place, without frenetic pace but with a sense of purpose, art, culture, a seat of learning, business hub, parks, perhaps a river or lake.
We had passed through Tamahere on Highway 1 many times, loved the English trees and Thoroughbred horses grazing peacefully. The post and rail fences exuded a sense of order, country beauty so close to Cambridge cafes and quaint shops yet also within minutes of the more sophisticated Hamilton scene for fine dining and cultural offerings.
We looked no further, and here we are in the heart of the Waikato on 2ha( 5 acres) of beautiful rural land 8 mins from the city. What we have found is not only the best of both worlds, but interesting people who have shared their sense of place with us.
Here are just a few that we have met, and some of the many special places that we have been to that make the area so appealing.
Exploring the Natural Environment:
Pete Evans has the inside running on the Thoroughbred horse scene at troutstalker.co.nz - his personalised tours are top class.
Amanda Graham, the business development manager for Hamilton Gardens, is absolutely committed to this beautiful civic amenity renowned in the Southern Hemisphere. Not to be overlooked is Darren Mills who operates his Waikato River Explorer from the Gardens.
Cycling or walking around the Hamilton Lake or along river paths is great, perhaps pausing to enjoy the produce at the weekly Farmers Market. Holly our Labrador loves these outings.
Maungatautari is an amazing oasis of wild life, an eco system of significance.
Raglan offers an eclectic mix of art, cafes and West Coast surf.
Peter Jackson;s ‘Hobbiton’ located at Alexander Farm is a draw to J.R.R. Tolkien fans and is for us, another chance to enjoy the area;s natural beauty.
Cafes, Cultural and High Performance precincts:
Emma and her team at Woodside Estate have a picturesque café close by, highly recommended. There are many others, too numerous to mention here.
Chim Choo Ree and Palate would be our favourite fine dining restaurants.
Louise Belay at Waikato Museum is a passionate communicator, well worth a visit. The City Art Gallery, Inspirit Studio & Gallery, Lily Pad Café all feature local artists.
The Cambridge High Performance Centre welcomes visitors to the new Velodrome where there’s an opportunity to try out the facilities along with the recently developed cycling trail.
We marvel at our world class rowing teams on Lake Karapiro, but have yet to take a canoe from the Boat Shed Café to test our skill!