Hobbiton hub crowned New Zealand's most hospitable place
Eat our dust, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch - even Queenstown. Waikato has been crowned New Zealand's most hospitable district in a hospitality index unveiled by Airbnb.
Chatty locals, stunning countryside and Hobbiton - not beaches, skifields, or bars - win over those travelling the country.
The study was based on the number of five-star reviews in New Zealand and Australian destinations. All regions were measured, but five stars from places with more than 1000 trips in the last 12 months were included.
The rural Waikato town of Matamata took out the top spot for the most hospitable in the country, followed closely by Cambridge, just south of Hamilton. Kerikeri came in third, so even Northland beat out the sophisticated cities.
In New Zealand, the year-on-year guest visits increased 112 per cent, taking advantage of more than 37,000 Airbnb listings. But none of New Zealand's cities featured on the top 10 hospitable destinations.
Matamata-Piako District Mayor Jan Barnes said she was delighted to hear Matamata was up there. New Zealanders are generally hospitable people, Barnes said, "particularly in Matamata - we're interested in people. We're very friendly ... We like a conversation. I would have thought we were right up there. But it's like winning gold, isn't it?
"They're really happy to offer hospitality and have people in their homes. We have something to be proud of here.
"Hobbiton is a great hook. People do go to Hobbiton and then go, look at the countryside! It's beautiful! Then they want to go out to Wairere Falls. It's become a very popular destination."
It's an ideal spot, Barnes said.
"You can go to the lakes, beaches or you can even go snow skiing. So we're a pretty good region to be going through, and of course, it's a wonderful town."
Wairere Falls is the highest waterfall in the North Island and is regularly listed in guide books. Big cities didn't do well across the ditch, either. Tamborine Mountain in Queensland took out the most hospitable destination in Australia.
Airbnb Australia and New Zealand country manager Sam McDonagh said it's no surprise that Australia and New Zealand are rated so highly.
"Airbnb provides elastic supply of accommodation outside traditional tourism hotspots," McDonagh said. "And guests are taking up the opportunity to live like locals travelling to and staying in regional destinations and rating those experiences highly.
"Outstanding hospitality is ingrained in our culture. Australia and New Zealand are exciting growth areas for Airbnb, as more people take the opportunity to share their homes and world class hospitality by welcoming travellers from around the world."