Hamilton-Frankton, North Island, April 24 – April 26, 2017
We stopped in Tirau on the way to Hamilton for a snack and to take pictures of the cool corrugated signs and buildings, that decorated the main street of town. The visitor center had postcards of each of them, so we found out that they are made by a company called Corrugated Creations.
After getting settled at our house, we headed to Good George Brewery, a great craft brewery, for lunch. It is housed in a former church, thus the cool stained-glass windows!
Afterwards, we headed to Hamilton Gardens. As it was our 13th wedding anniversary, we did things that we both enjoyed! 😉 Some may have enjoyed both things more than others. 🙂 Anyway, the gardens were amazing!! I could have spent days roaming around, but we didn’t have days, and I wouldn’t have been able to convince Mike or the kids to wander around that long. We did stay long enough to enjoy a taste of it, play on a playground, and take some pictures! 🙂
As it was our anniversary, on our way home, we stopped for some dinner ingredients (chicken schnitzel, tortilla wraps, and nacho chips), as well as a delicious cider and a small chocolate cake! 🙂
The next day, we were out the door by 8 am to drive to Waitomo Caves for our 9:30 reservation. It was a beautiful drive through rolling countryside to get there. Mike and the kids did the tour while I sat in the cafe and read. (I don’t do caves.) The highly recommended tour is all about going into the caves to see the glowworm, Arachnocampa luminosa, which is unique to New Zealand, as well as learning about the historical and geological significance of the caves. The tour was over in 45 minutes, and Mike and the kids enjoyed learning about the glowworms and the cave, and I enjoyed not going into the cave! 😉
G and L waiting to get on the boat.
Next we went on a short hike to a lookout that overlooked the village of Waitomo and farmland with cows grazing. The hike was through some cool rocks and ferns and other bushes and trees. As we were walking, L heard a bird in a bush close by, so we stopped to see if we could see it. L spotted it — a huge wood pigeon!! We stopped for a few minutes and took a bunch of pictures, none of which fully captured what we actually saw, unfortunately.
New Zealand Silver Fern! 🙂
After the hike, we had a lovely picnic lunch of croissants, ham, cheese, apples, and crisps and then headed to Waitomo Village.
G showing off her new paua shell earrings.
As we drove to the village, Mike and I saw a stoat scurry across the road!! (It’s always fun to see animals we aren’t as familiar with out in nature!) Note: the former was cool to see, the latter is a pest/predator introduced to New Zealand and is on the list of animals that New Zealand wants to see disappear by 2050. Also on the list are possums, which are another introduced species. As a result, the market for clothing using a blend of possum fur and merino wool is gaining ground!
Back to Waitomo Village. While it’s not a big place, it does have a great little museum about the history of the caves, geological info, bones from the now extinct moa and a life-size model of it, a small movie theater with movies about the caves and the glowworms. We watched the movies, so I got a glimpse of what Mike and the kids experienced, which was fun! 🙂 There also were all sorts of “walls” that were designed for kids to crawl under or shimmy through like you would in a cave setting.
The kids played on the playground across the street for bit afterward and then we went stopped into the General Store and got poppies (for Anzac Day – April 25) and a ridiculously good peanut butter chocolate bar.
It was a great day. Sadly, when we got back to our house, though, I had a text from my mom letting me know that my dear Grandma Dot had passed away at 97 years. So many tears to hear this news from so far away. We called and talked to my mom and dad for a while and then at the suggestion of my mom we went out for dessert to honor Grandma, who loved sweet treats! As one of my friends suggested, perhaps she needed a better vantage point from which to watch all of our adventures.