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The amazing views and bush-clad valleys of the Belmont Regional Park have long been a local favourite. Located in the hill country between Porirua and Hutt Valley, there are over 125km of walking and biking trails to explore. The abundant birdlife and sense of serenity here is worthy of the remotest of landscapes, so it’s no wonder the locals have kept this urban treasure to themselves.
In the heart of South Waikato, Putaruru is a town you might easily pass through without stopping. However, that would be a pity as an extended refreshment stop and a walk along the Pavement Art Trail is well worth including on any travel schedule. Pick up a brochure from the information centre and follow the murals and mosaic pathways leading you on a colourful journey through the region’s history and culture. Before you leave town, be sure to sample the award-winning local artisan cheeses at the boutique cheese factory, charmingly called Over the Moon Dairy.
The historic hall in Manaia, South Taranaki, has had several notable re-incarnations during its existence, having served as a band hall, a hospital and a movie theatre. But since 1992 it has been home to the Taranaki Country Music Hall of Fame and showcases the best of Kiwi and international country music and memorabilia. Enjoy musical entertainment with your lunch or take to the stage yourself... if you’re game!
Away from the South Island’s main centres, smaller towns can reveal often-overlooked historical treasures. The unassuming service town of Pleasant Point in Southern Canterbury packs some surprising punches. Ride the world’s only Ford Model T Railcar, admire restored railway relics in the museum and take an entertaining look back in time at the vintage cinema. Central Otago gold-mining town, Clyde, attracts visitors for its nostalgic charm and summer stone-fruit orchards. However, more recently it is Clyde’s rapidly growing reputation as a leading wine-producing region that is capturing the attention of South Island wine-trail fans.
So even if you’re not heading away, why not take the weekend to delve a little deeper and discover something new in your own hometown.