I’ve organised a few meetings in the mighty Waikato, but had never actually been there; so it’s safe to say, this was the first experience of the region with my event manager goggles on. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting much – my inside voice was “another city, same hotels, same conference spaces, nothing extraordinary” … BUT boy was I wrong!

Let’s begin this story with my mission:

  1. Go explore options in the Waikato area for upcoming meetings
  2. Come home, job done! Right???

WRONG!!!! More like … go on an experience and get your mind BLOWN.

#MindBlown #CampClaudelands

First stop on the magic school bus with John – the coolest cat in town (courtesy of Leisure Time Tours) was Camp Claudelands aka Claudelands Events Centre. On arrival we were transported to the Redwoods for a whimsical glamping experience under the stars. “Yes, we were inside”.

This space, although it appeared to be intimate and cosy, was actually the Claudelands Arena – with the capability of up to 6,000 seated guests or 1,600 banquet. On first glance you wouldn’t think that the space was that big, but to the trained eye of a PCO, you could see the black draping was simply a cloak of ‘deception’ cleverly used to transform a giant arena into an intimate glamping site. Thus showcasing the versatility and imagination of the team and spaces at Claudelands.

To add to the night, we were serenaded by the gentle chirping of crickets (courtesy of iTunes I presume), the smell of the pine trees (thanks to the in-house candle lady) and delish food by Montana. What a great start to a jam-packed week thanks to Melissa and her team at Claudelands.  

Note: This was only one space … view Claudelands website for all other spaces.. no matter how large or small they have you covered.

#UNexpected #HamiltonGardens you gem!

Next on our Waikato adventure … Hamilton Garden.

First off, this is NOT a botanical garden. It’s a garden like no other, with each garden telling a story. We were taken on a journey around the world, and some to a different time.

Like Alice through the rabbit hole we jumped into another dimension. Ending up at the newly opened Katherine Mansfied Garden, greeted by the styling flare of The Event Company, we were treated to a High-tea Party in the garden, true English style.

After a rather dapper breakfast, we strolled from China and the lily pond, to India and its vibrant culture, there was a surprise around every corner, literally!

These gardens can be hired for any event, whether it be a high tea breakfast in the Katherine Mansfield Garden, an opera performance in the Medici Court Garden, or even just a group tour … it is safe to say this place is one I’ll never forget.

But wait, it gets better!!!

#Waitomo, a place like no other

As if the trip couldn’t get better, Waitomo came to the party. For all you conference organisers wanting a point of difference, try booking the Waitomo Caves exclusively after hours. That way, you get the entire forest and caves to oooohh and aaahh over, without the tourist hustle and bustle.

Enjoy a private tour through the caves and be serenaded by opera singers in the Cathedral within the caves to give you goose bumps! Be prepared for the little walk underground… so ladies… no hot pumps at this function.

Why wouldn’t you #Waikato?

All I can say is, Waikato, you are indeed Mighty!! Full of wonder, excitement and many hidden gems.

There are plenty of hotels, thanks to Novotel Tainui and Distinction Hamilton Hotel & Conference Centre for hosting. And many more conference spaces such as Mystery Creek Events Centre and the Atrium at Wintec that are ideal spaces to consider.

Cruise down the Waikato river on a boat cruise, or even take your guests go karting at Hampton Downs… give them a go… you might just be #mindblown like me.

Conference Organisers around the world, take a look for yourself, you may be just as surprised as me.

Give Amanda or her team a call at the Hamilton & Waikato Conventions Bureau if you’d like to be shown the light. Amanda was fantabulous!!!

Until next time…

Te Ata Hawkins
Event Executive, Auaha 

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