Hamilton City Guide

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First up, there is no beach at Hamilton, it is the only inland city in NZ! On the map it looks about 20 minutes drive from the coast but as it is a very hilly road, nearer to 45 minutes in real time. However, to make up for having no beach, Hamilton has several Gully systems and if you rent/buy a gully section, you will have some stunning views and the peace and serenity of living in the country but still be in the city

I personally think it is a good place to bring up children - great parks, including Hamilton Gardens, great museum with interactive stuff downstairs for kids, at least 2 swimming pools, a reasonable zoo considering the size of Hamilton;any amount of preschool by the look of it. http://www.hamiltoninfo.co.nz/tourism/activities.html

About an hour and a half drive to the Mount and Tauranga, maybe 2 to Taupo, 1 to Rotorua, 90 minutes to Auckland, 6 -7 hours drive to Wellington.

We live about 4 minutes drive from the hospital and there are some nice properties around, depending on your budget and your taste. Like anywhere you go, good areas, bad areas. We were warned to stay away from Melville, Nawton and around the University. Also, traffic can be bad if you want to work in the CBD but live in east Hamilton as there are only 2 bridges over the river to carry all the traffic. I found it to be on roughly the same scale as York as we had just come from there. I was concerned about inner city living before we moved here, never having done a recce. Thankfully, there doesn't seem to be that feel here at all. In some respects it looks a bit like the type of American city suburbs you see in so many films: the grass between the road and the pavement on many streets; mailboxes rather than letterboxes on your door; a huge amount of of trees within the city; individual houses rather than semi-detached or rows of adjoining houses. Look at: http://www.lodgerealestate.co.nz/?nav=suburb_profiles&sub=suburbs for a suburb profile.

There is a reasonable range of shops in the city centre - none of the names that Brits are used to but plenty of shops for all that. 2 quite small malls and loads of other shops. http://www.aatravel.co.nz/new-zealand/Hamilton_Shopping.html

The weather: I think it is far better than the UK weather - we have an orange tree in the garden, now have you ever managed to grow one in sunny Britain? No, I think not! Even now, in what is the equivalent of November, it isn't that cold. More like September to my mind. I have been told it hasn't snowed here since 1960 and there were about 4 - 6 frosts last winter. It gets pretty foggy and humid here in winter apparently but as we only got here in October, I haven't experienced that yet. Yes it rains a lot in NZ but it buckets down then the sun shines more often than not, giving the humidity that people moan about. Use a dehumidifier and you will be fine. We have just had a heat pump installed a few weeks ago but have hardly had it on. Our house also had a Domestic Ventilation System - basically a big dehumidifier that vents through the ceiling and that seems to be taking care of any dampness.

Average wage in the Waikato is around $17, there seems to be plenty of work about, always jobs going in the local press: http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikatotimes/

We found finding a decent rental a bit of a problem initially but there are some good ones out there, just be patient and one will turn up. We found a rental with Hamilton Property Rentals: http://www.hamiltonpropertyrentals.co.nz/ Also look at: http://www.lodgerealestate.co.nz/?nav=rentsearch http://www.realestate.co.nz/rental/rental-house/hamilton-city Yes, you have to pay a bond but you do get it back. It is worth asking your current land-lord for a reference if you currently rent as you may well be asked for one when you initially look to rent here.

{This next bit is lifted from a thread on gangs, written by StevieB} Here in Hamilton we have Mongrel Mob and Black Power around, but we also have the youth or dispossessed who can't get into a 'main-stream gang, and have now decided to copy America and run in either the 'Bloods' or the 'Crips', which I believe have also spread around a large part of NZ (we've even got the really desperate ones who have formed the 'East Side' and 'West Side' gangs...so desperate they couldn't think of a name past the part of the town they were in!) I see them all the time in my job, but also in my neighbourhood. However, it seems that you either have to be in a rival gang or have some gang connection, or be really flaunting just how rich you are, before they will bother you. And while I agree that many, in fact possibly the majority, are Maori, there are also Pakhea, Somalian, Tongan and Asian members...unfortunately the population in the majority of the gang stronghold areas is predominantly Maori, so they're an easy target. It also seems to be a generational thing and the older members may have had enough and want out, and be trying to keep their kids out, but the kids want the 'respect' they've seen they're dads, uncles and big brothers receive, so of course they're going to do it all again. Don't sweat it...if you're not part of the gang culture, you're unlikely to be affected by it. Like everyone says, live and let live. There has been a substantial success rate in the probation service with 18 to 30 year old male Maori offenders attending Tikanga programmes and thereafter leading offence free, responsible lives. These programmes teach traditional Maori values in a marae environment (they are residential), which get the students in touch with the culture they know they are a part of, but have no experience of. {Thank you StevieB} This may make you think that there are gansters on every corner, which is not the truth at all. There is crime wherever you go. Hamilton is no better and no worse than any city you may visit.

Hamilton has some decent cafes and restaurants and a really good, newly completed cinema at Chartwell. The seats are big and comfy and the seats are on a steep incline so that someone sat in front of you would need to be about 9ft tall to spoil your viewing pleasure.

Please remember: this is my opinion. I have thoroughly enjoyed living in Hamilton so far and my opinions reflect this.