Days 220-221 Monday-Tuesday November 26-27, 2007 – Dargaville to Hamilton, New Zealand
After our long but mostly uneventful (except for almost getting killed by pitbulls) day on Sunday, we were anxious to get out of Northland on Monday morning. Before heading out of town, we took a quick stroll along Dargaville’s waterfront and main drag. Dargaville is a neat little town with a couple of interesting buildings, but didn’t hold our interest for long.
On the way from Dargaville back to Auckland we covered a lot of the same road we drove a couple of days ago on the way up. Other than a quick stop for lunch in Auckland, we went straight through to Hamilton which sits about one hour south of New Zealand’s largest city. After fighting a bit of traffic in Hamilton’s small downtown area, we found the I-site and got our accommodation settled for the night.
Before heading to the holiday park we decided to take in the free Waikato Museum of Art & History located in downtown Hamilton. The museum itself was actually surprisingly good, with a nice mixture of contemporary and historic art on display. We also enjoyed the section that detailed the history of the Maori people on the Waikato River. It had a large selection of artifacts including some totem poles and a large canoe. I also found the exhibit detailing the many different religions found in New Zealand to be extremely well done.
After almost two hours at the museum, we checked in at the holiday park and discovered that we really liked the cabin we were in. The cabin had a tv and we spent much of the night watching it. The room itself also featured comfortable beds and a kitchen and it was because of this added comfort that we decided to stay in Hamilton on Tuesday as well.
On Tuesday, we didn’t have much to do so we headed over to the library so I could update the website and Shawn Reece could do some school work. After a couple of hours at the library and walking around downtown for a bit, we went over to the Hamilton Gardens, perhaps the main tourist draw in the area.
The Hamilton Gardens are massive and broken down into several different groups. The first area we entered featured several replica gardens including a Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden and a 16th century Italian garden which were all stunning. In fact, these gardens are among my favorites anywhere.
From the themed gardens area we walked through some more traditional wide open lawns along a lake. The gardens provided plenty of beauty to stare at while walking through the massive grounds. In the end, we spent over two hours at the gardens. Along the way we saw many locals picnicking or simply reading a book. It was nice to see them utilizing the gardens that they are privileged to have in their city.
After leaving the gardens we were pretty exhausted so we headed back to the hotel and relaxed for the rest of the night. The next couple of days will take us through some more spectacular scenery and perhaps a cave or two. We are also hoping to catch our first glimpse at a Kiwi bird, even if it may be in captivity. All of that and more next time!
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The Coomer Family