Waka on Lake Karāpiro. © Joanne Creative Commons

Loved by the locals: Waipā

Waipa District
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1. Colonial Heritage Antiques

This antique store has been part of the Cambridge township forever and my favourite place is the cabinet at the counter that is full of utterly gorgeous jewellery. The staff are friendly and don’t mind me playing dress-up when I go in there, so I recommend it even if you are not in the market for bling.

Among the store’s selection of treasures, you’ll find china, figurines, ceramics, pottery, silver, pewter, prints, a large selection of books, glass and there’s always a box of bits out front that is worth rustling through for a cheap find.

2. Waka Ama Nationals

A yearly event that takes place at Lake Karāpiro, the 2016 Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Waka Ama Sprint Nationals drew crowds of around 10,000. It’s a loud and festive event that encompasses a great spirit of Māoridom and competitiveness, with club teams racing each other and regions also going head to head.

 3. Te Awa River Ride

This 70km bike ride takes participants through all kinds of landscapes both rural and urban, all next to the Waikato River. The project is well underway and according to the trail’s website, 22km of concrete path has been constructed to date, four sections are open to the public, 13,000 plants have been planted along the path in the last year and a whopping 358,393 people are using the trail each year.

When it’s done, Te Awa River Ride (it’s also great for walking) will stretch for 70km along the Waikato River from Ngāruawahia to Horahora.

Stunning shot of Te Awa's Karapiro boardwalk. Thanks Kingham Landscaping.

A post shared by Te Awa The Great NZ River Ride (@teawariverride) on Jan 13, 2017 at 5:33pm PST

4. Regent Theatre

Te Awamutu without the Regent Theatre would be like Paris without the Eiffel Tower. Unthinkable. New Zealand’s longest-running cinema has been in business since 1932. It has been run since 1974 by Allan Webb, who initially called it the New Regent Luxury Cinema with The Towering Inferno.

In 2007, the Regent celebrated its 75th birthday with a premiere of the Beatrix Potter biopic Miss Potter. Five years earlier, the Russell Crowe film A Beautiful Mind premiered there.

Today, the Regent continues to host high profile premieres (last year it was the documentary To Whom It May Concern: Ka Shen's Journey), but every other day it is open as a mainstream cinema.

 5. The Lilypad

The Lilypad Café sits in the middle of rural Waikato and serves a diverse crowd who travel from far and wide to enjoy a cuppa and excellent food in what feels a bit like sitting in a really nice backyard (there is an inside, too).

It opened in 2003 and part of its charm is that adjacent to the café there’s a garden art studio that sells work by local and national artists.

The café (closed only on Mondays) has an a la carte menu for breakfast and lunch and fresh homemade cakes in the cabinet. 

DONUTS!

A post shared by The Lily Pad Cafe (@_thelilypadcafe_) on May 12, 2017 at 3:27pm PDT

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Where to stay in Waipa

4.6 /5
4.6 /5
Cambridge Mews Visit website

Boutique-style lodging with exceptional comfort and service for both the business person or the tourist wanting a unique stopover. Enjoy the garden and BBQ area. . . . More . . . 

4.5 /5
4.5 /5
Colonial Court Motel Visit website

Colonial Court Motel is a modern, quiet, clean and spacious 15-unit ground-floor accommodation complex. We offer studio and 1 & 2-bedroom units in a secluded . . . More . . . 

4.5 /5
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4.5 /5
Captain's Quarters Motor Inn

QUIETEST MOTEL IN CAMBRIDGE.... Captain's Quarters is located on a QUIET back section. Our most common guest comment is "It's so quiet here and you're . . . More . . . 

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4.2 /5
Cambrian Lodge Motel Visit website

Most AFFORDABLE Motel in Cambridge. Clean & Comfortable. 100% Kiwi owned and operated. Onsite Pool & Spa, VERY popular with families 11 ground-floor units - . . . More . . .