Published in: Seasons Magazine, February 2015
I hope you had a relaxing Christmas holiday and, as I did, enjoyed spending time with family and friends in perfect summer conditions.
During the break I managed a bit of fishing, biking, coastal and mountain walks, along with following some great cricket by the Blacks Caps, and I feel refreshed and raring to tackle all that 2015 has in store. Weren’t the pohutukawas stunning this year!
With my role as MP for Hamilton West comes a fair amount of travel – to Wellington, or on Parliamentary duties in other parts of the country. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle; however, I believe it is of vital importance to do so. Walking is something I can partake in and enjoy in many parts of the country, but I am especially fond of our very own Waikato River walk.
Over the recent Anniversary Weekend my wife, Anne, and I walked the Atiamuri to Whakamaru Dam section of the Waikato River Trail, a distance of 23.5 kilometres which we completed on a baking hot day. Despite the heat, it was a wonderful outing with stunning views of the river and changing landscapes.
There is something very peaceful about walking beside the flowing waters of the Waikato River, and we enjoy regular outings of this nature whenever we can. The Hamilton City Council does a wonderful job of maintaining the 16 kilometre path through our city – a huge task when you think of the number of trees that line our river! I’m glad that we have experts to keep these pruned – I have enough trouble mowing the lawns and ‘deadheading’ our roses!
What a fabulous country (and region) we live in. Anne and I found time over the Christmas break to explore the wonderful Hauraki Rail Trail that runs from Te Aroha to Waihi. We cycled the Paeroa to Waikino stage, through the beautiful Karangahake Gorge. The trail through the gorge follows the Ohinemuri River and includes a number of interesting bridges and a long railway tunnel. The trail was challenging in parts, yet highly achievable, and we enjoyed a stop at the historic Waikino Hotel for lunch before we headed back to Paeroa. It really was a lovely day out, and I highly recommend you experience this trail for yourself. One tip – you might like to invest in some padded bike shorts!
Cycling is going from strength to strength in New Zealand and the New Zealand Cycle Trail is attracting high-value visitors and helping New Zealand stay on the international map as a top tourist destination. These trails are boosting our regional economies and creating jobs.
Last summer the New Zealand Cycle Trail experienced a 56 per cent average growth rate, with an estimated 97,000 trail users for the month of January 2014 alone.
To help ensure the quality of these trails is maintained, the Government is investing $8 million over four years.
In the first round announced in December 2014, our very own Waikato River Trails will receive $47,500 of funding to redevelop over a kilometre of the Trail. We look forward to tackling this section when the work is completed.
I was delighted to attend the opening of the new playground at Hamilton’s Lake Rotoroa just before Christmas. It has proven very popular with families over the holidays, and it’s a great new local attraction. The city’s parks and playgrounds are a fantastic way to introduce children and grandchildren to the great outdoors, plus they are a free activity!
Hamilton City Council staff are now redeveloping Minogue Park playground, and invite community input on the types of equipment and playground activity children would like to see at this park. You may have your say at www.hamilton.govt.nz/minogueplayground.