Thursday, 4 January 2018

New Zealand: Day Trips from Hamilton

My 2016 superhuman blogging self, who used to churn out four blog posts a week, would be less than impressed to know that seven months after my trip to New Zealand I still haven't finished my blog posts, but here we are. 

As I mentioned in my first post, the trip was a little disjointed due to Tom's flying schedule, so rather than follow on chronologically from Auckland, this post covers the places I loved in or around Hamilton, including day trips that are feasible from the city. 

Ngarunui Beach, Raglan

We sped (not literally) over to Ngarunui Beach in Raglan after one of Tom's flights to catch the sunset. It is roughly a 40-minute drive from Hamilton, and I think the sunset photos prove that it's worth the drive over. Had my trip been longer, I would definitely have returned to spend a day on the beach and explore Raglan.

Waiotapu Thermal Hot Springs

There are a few thermal hot spring locations to choose from in the Rotorua area (roughly an hour and a half from Hamilton by car), so I was lucky in the fact that Tom had already been to a few and could recommend his favourite. Once you have adjusted to the overpowering smell of sulphur, Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, as it's called, is an impressive site of thermal hot springs, comprised of a rainbow of unexpected colours. For someone, like me, who's never experienced any thermal activity, it's a must-see.


I couldn’t travel to this corner of New Zealand and not visit Hobbiton. The film set where they created ‘The Shire’ for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, is an 45-minute drive from Hamilton, and although it’s overpriced, stuffed full of tourist groups and quite a fleeting tour, we had no regrets. You have to go around the set as part of a guided tour, but this does mean you get lots of fun insights about the filming process along the way. We booked the second slot of the day, which meant there was only one tour group already going around, so we managed to get some great shots of the location without hundreds of people in the background.

Mount Maunganui, Tauranga

After our morning in Hobbiton, we opted for the 50-minute drive over to the east coast to climb Mount Maunganui. From the top, you get beautiful views over Tauranga and the sea.

Hamilton Gardens

Although I wasn’t besotted with Hamilton itself, there are a few things worth doing if you’re in the city. We hired a car while I was ther, for our road trip and so that when Tom was flying I wasn’t stuck in his accommodation. On one such day, I headed to Hamilton Gardens to have a wander around, and it ended up being one of my favourite afternoons of the trip. One section of the grounds is comprised of 14 walled gardens, each with a different theme, from Japanese to Tudor. 

Hamilton Zoo

In the two weeks I spent in New Zealand, we were incredibly lucky with the weather, and it wasn’t until my final day that it rained. Well, it poured. As we couldn’t head to the beach, we settled on a trip to the zoo. Apart from the fact that a lot of the animals were hiding inside from the rain, it was a morning well spent.

Hamilton Lake Domain

This lake isn’t worth a long journey by any stretch, but it makes for a nice afternoon stroll.

Two Birds Eatery

Finishing off with a breakfast I’m still thinking about seven months later, Two Birds Eatery is a cafe in Hamilton East, full of super healthy but delicious food.


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