Landlocked cities in an island nation are never going to have the glamorous appeal of their coastal cousins. Rotorua compensates with boiling mud and Taupo has its lake, but Hamilton and Palmerston North, despite their majestic rivers, are left clutching the short straws.
However, something strange has happened in Hamilton recently. The city’s main street has sprouted a sophisticated and vibrant stretch of bars and eateries around Hood and Victoria Sts that – on the weekend at least – leaves Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour for dead in the boozy fun stakes.
Oddly, the great grey-green greasy Waikato River rolls right through town, but the city’s layout largely ignores its presence: unless you’re driving across a bridge you’ll hardly know it’s there.