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 trail takes you through all kinds of landscapes both rural and urban from Ngāuruwāhia in the north through to Karapiro in the south, all next to the mighty Waikato River. It’s easy riding or walking along 3m-wide concrete paths, which are mostly flat apart from a few short, steep bits. 

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. 


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

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