Tom Rowland is a Hamilton News reporter.

New Hamilton park opens central city to the river

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Victoria on the River opened to a crowd of just over 200 people on Thursday night. Photo / Tom Rowland
Victoria on the River opened to a crowd of just over 200 people on Thursday night. Photo / Tom Rowland

Victoria on the River opened to the public on Thursday evening as Hamilton City council resumes business for 2018.

Food carts, live entertainment and a river view was in store for over 200 people who had turned out for the opening.

During the opening, Mayor Andrew King spoke about his vision to open the city up to the river, mentioning the proposal to expand the river front park is in the council's propopsed 10-year plan.

"This central city park shows we can achieve if we have a vision and a desire to embrace our river," the mayor said.

"Our 10-year plan goes out to public consultation in a couple of months time and that includes a proposal to further expand this park down Victoria Street.

"We have a chance to create something special and something lasting for future generations in the heart of Hamilton.

This is a beautiful space."

Hamilton Mayor Andrew King and Kaumatua for Hamilton City Tame Pokaia at the opening of Victoria on the River. Photo / Tom Rowland
Hamilton Mayor Andrew King and Kaumatua for Hamilton City Tame Pokaia at the opening of Victoria on the River. Photo / Tom Rowland

Hamilton City Council is currently discussing its 10-year plan with a proposal from the mayor to buy a block of buildings on the river and demolish them to open the city up to the river.

The original budget for the project was $20 million but an amendment which was passed trimmed that budget to $12 million.

Anne Estivall, who was returning to France on Friday with her friend said that they had originally planned to stay in Auckland overnight, but heard about the opening and wanted to be present for it.

"It is great, it is just really relaxing being able to come down here and take a seat and listen to the river," Ms Estivall said.

"I heard it will be a bit expensive to open Hamilton up to the river, but if the result looks anything like this then it could be worth it."

"I would like to come back to New Zealand in a couple of years and see more of the river from Hamilton because it is a jewel."

Maria Barrie, Parks and Recreation manager for the Hamilton City Council said it has been a big project for the city's transformation plan.

"The key objective of this site is the connection from the CBD to the river," Ms Barrie said.

"Having a place like this is just going to be incredible for tourists who are walking down the main street and go wow what do we have here."

Tracey Wood, the city events manager said that opening of the park creates another event space for Hamilton to use.

"My head is full of ideas," Ms Wood said.

Victoria on the River is one of the major projects in Hamilton City Council's Central City Transformation Plan. The council purchased the site in 2009, and committed funding to the project in late 2015.

The expansive amphitheatre-style park will open up the central city to the riverbank and provide a location for shoppers, visitors and central city workers to relax, unwind, socialise and enjoy Hamilton's defining geographical feature – the Waikato River.

The site opened two months ahead of schedule after better-than-expected weather allowed construction to proceed faster.

The entrance to Victoria on the River is on Victoria Street opposite the end of Collingwood Street.

- Hamilton News

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