Picture in your mind the North Island of New Zealand and identify Auckland.
Now picture a band of countryside approximately 50 kilometres south of Auckland, running west from the west-coast, itself a band approximately 100 kilometres wide which encompasses the city of Hamilton, and to the east ends just short of the thermal areas of Rotorua.
This wide expanse of gentle rolling and flat countryside is some of New Zealand's best agricultural land.
Rich in early New Zealand history, later a strong centre of missionary work, and thence the focus of bitter Maori land wars, it soon saw the arrival of the railway in 1880 and the arrival of larger numbers of European settlers.
With these folk came farming - particularly dairying, and today that industry continues to dominate the landscape.
Maoridom maintains its focal centre in the Waikato - where the King movement at Turangawaewae near Ngaruawahia, just north of Hamilton, is based.
Hamilton on the majestic Waikato River has grown to become a lovely city and centre for dairy farming, commerce and tourism and is the Waikato's largest populated area.
To the south east lies beautiful Cambridge with its tree-lined streets and well-maintained housing and adjacent lifestyle blocks.
Rich pasture provides the necessities of life for rich bloodstock - thoroughbred horses bred here have become some of the best in the southern hemisphere.
Standard bred horses raised in the Waikato have raced overseas and proved themselves world-class.
A short distance from Cambridge on the Waikato River is Lake Karapiro, a 24km artificial lake feeding the Karapiro hydroelectric station - the lowest of a chain of power stations on the river.
One of the best rowing venues in the world, the lake will host the 2010 World Rowing Championships.
The third largest town in the Waikato is Te Awamutu - home to approximately 10,000 people, and a rural service town to surrounding communities.
Strong in sport, music, and agriculture, Te Awamutu presents many options to those seeking a wonderful country lifestyle within easy driving distance of both east and west coast beaches, yet handy to all the facilities that only cities can provide.
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