Excitement, exhilaration, fun times – and a sense of pride. That's pretty much how mighty locals feel when major events are staged here in the Waikato region.
With world-class facilities and ready access thanks to our geographic location and top-notch transport links, the Waikato has increasingly become one of the most popular places to host 'hero' events – events that not only attract local attendance but also visitors from outside the region, both from throughout New Zealand as well as internationally.
These hero events are enjoyable, entertaining and often make the headline news.
Importantly, they also they bring economic, cultural, and social benefits to the Waikato. From dollars spent directly on the likes of accommodation, in eateries and bars, creating employment opportunities and on-flow of the visitor expenditure into our communities, to sharing the region's history and stories and creating a sense of community pride.
With some significant sporting related fixtures coming up in the region, the Waikato Herald asked Hamilton & Waikato Tourism to put together a calendar of hero events our mighty local readers can attend over the coming months.
Next month the world's number one darts player, Gerwyn Price from Wales, is among international champions taking on leading Oceania players when the World Series of Darts returns to Hamilton's Globox Arena with the New Zealand Darts Masters (August 26-27).
Price, a former rugby union and league player, is known as The Iceman for his cool competition demeanour.
From December 8-12 the Special Olympics Summer Games New Zealand will be staged at various venues in Hamilton Kirikiriroa when more than 3000 athletes, coaches and supporters are expected in the city.
Special Olympics is a global organisation giving people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to train and compete in a range of sports, representing their region at national events and their country internationally.
The multiple-day event sees Special Olympics athletes from around the country compete in 11 summer sports including athletics, football, swimming, basketball, and equestrian events at venues across the city.
It is no secret to proud mighty locals that the annual Fieldays at Mystery Creek is the southern hemisphere's largest agricultural event.
This year's Fieldays, postponed from the usual mid-June timing due to Covid restrictions, is being held from November 30-December 3 when ground-breaking innovations, along with shopping, competitions, demonstrations, live shows and tasty food prepared by some of New Zealand's top chefs will tempt and entertain visitors.
New Zealand's biggest sporting party returns to Hamilton's FMG Stadium Waikato, the spiritual home of rugby in the region, when the HSBC New Zealand Sevens takes place on January 21-22.
Full men's and women's tournaments will play out across two fields at the stadium with special zones dedicated to festival, party and family activities.
This will be the first time the All Blacks Sevens and the Black Ferns Sevens will have played for home fans since 2020 when they both won in front of a packed FMG Stadium Waikato crowd.
The Sevens games attract fans from across the country and are viewed via media, mainstream and social, by audiences around the world.
Set to be the largest women's sporting event in the world ever, the 2023 World Cup is being hosted next July in various cities in New Zealand and Australia, including in Hamilton Kirikiriroa.
Being selected as one of the World Cup host cities is a major feather in the cap for the Waikato community as a whole.
Hamilton has also been confirmed as one of the cities to stage a number of play-off games with the result that in February, 10 top women's football teams from across the globe will compete at Waikato Stadium for the final three qualifying spots in the cup.
As part of the fun and games, the Football Ferns, who have already qualified, will also play a series of friendly matches with these teams.
If all this sports talk is inspiring action, there is a fixture later this year that is a hero event in its own right – one that is open not just to honed athletes, but to anyone with a sense of adventure.
It is the annual Waitomo Trail Run, which is fast making a name nationally and internationally as a bucket-list encounter due to the unique experience of running, or walking, through caves, under canopies of sparkling glowworms, through limestone canyons and native forest.
There is still plenty of time to enter this event with this year's overground and underground Waitomo run on November 5. Distances range from 6km to 35km.
To stay up to date with events, hero or otherwise, happening in the Waikato and find out about the latest things to see and do in the region, sign up for Hamilton & Waikato Tourism's free quarterly newsletter. Follow this link waikatonz.com/sign-up-for-our-newsletter/