Hamilton
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Aerial view of Hamilton city and the Waikato RiverLocated 127 kms south of Auckland, Hamilton is located on the banks of the Waikato River - the longest river in New Zealand. 

Hamilton (Pop: 193,000) is New Zealand's 4th largest city and is becoming an  industrial, financial, educational and IT centre.

The centre of the city, on the Waikato River, is a bustling retail precinct. The entertainment area is quite vibrant due to the large student population. The 2008 Lonely planet guide states that "the city's main street has sprouted a sophisticated and vibrant stretch of bars and eateries that on the weekend at least leave Auckland's Viaduct Harbour for dead in the boozy fun stakes." Hamilton has the second-largest collection of cafés in the country—second only to Ponsonby Road in Auckland.

Garden Place, Hamilton City CentreHamilton is known for abundant parks, walkways, river jet boating and river cruises, agriculture research, Waikato University, stud farms and the annual National Field day and Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

Education and research are important to the city, through the University of Waikato, and Wintec (Waikato Institute of Technology). Research at the Ruakura centre has been responsible for much of New Zealand's innovation in agriculture.

Hamilton annually hosts the National Agricultural Field days at Mystery Creek, the southern hemisphere's biggest agricultural trade exhibition. Mystery Creek is the country's largest event centre and hosts other events of national importance, such as the National Car Show and the National Boat Show.

Hamilton city centre at duskManufacturing and retail are also important to the local economy, as is the provision of health services through the Waikato Base Hospital. The city is home to New Zealand's largest aircraft manufacturer, Pacific Aerospace who manufactured their 1,000th aircraft in August 2009, and Max Clear Aviation who manufacture and export high quality micro light aircraft. It also has its largest concentration of trailer-boat manufacturers such as Buccaneer.

Recent years have seen the firm establishment of the New Zealand base of the British flight training organisation CTC Aviation training over 100 airline pilots a year at its "Crew Training Centre" at Hamilton International Airport.

Hamilton is a hub for regular daily bus and coach services from and to Auckland, Rotorua, Waitomo Caves, Tauranga, Taupo, Gisborne, Napier, Hastings, New Plymouth, Wanganui, Palmerston North and Wellington. The Northern Explorer train service to Auckland, National Park, Ohakune, Palmerston North and Wellington.

Air New Zealand Link operates regular daily direct air services to and from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.