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A Trip to Hamilton and the Coromandel

This page is about a trip that Andy took with a guy from his work (BJ) to Hamilton in the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand

The trip started on a Thursday lunchtime. After ensuring we'd have enough music to last for the couple of thousand kilometres we'd be travelling, BJ and I hit the road. We drove North up the Kapiti Coast, through the Manawatu up across the temperate desert of the Central Plateau, through the geothermal regions of Taupo and finally through the rich farm land of the Waikato.

Two pictures from the Central Plateau. On the left, Mount Ruapehu - an active volcano - sits on the horizon, topped by snow. On the right, Mount Ngauruhoe (pronounced nar-a-ho-ee); an almost perfect conical dormant volcano.

We arrived in Hamilton at around 7pm and checked into our accommodation - the student house enhabited by BJ's sister, Vanessa, and three other female students. We spent the rest of the evening chatting about nothing in particular and tried to get an early night for the planned excursion to the Coromandel Peninsular for the next day

We got up reasonably early and hit the road again - this time continuing North through the Waikato and up towards the Coromandel. On the way, we passed the pretty town of Te Aroha, nestling sweetly in the foot of some mighty New Zealand hills and also the town of Paeroa, "World Famous in New Zealand" for it being the home of the soft drink L&P. Our first stop of the day was at a town just South of the Coromandel called Waihi. BJ wanted a relative to fix up his exhaust, but was too busy - so we moved on to Waihi Beach for breakfast and a look along the long golden sands, deserted at this time of the year.

Some views from Waihi.

Top Left: The Waihi Open Cast Gold Mine. Very deep, and very profitable.

Top Right: A view South down Waihi Beach.

Left: A view North up Waihi Beach.

We soon continued North up on to the Coromandel, through Whangamata and up to the famous Hot Water Beach. Here, we got out and had a look around the beach and have a dig into the warm sands. The water was unnaturally warm.

Some views from up the Coromandel Coastline. Top Left: From Te Karo Bay, the Aldermen Islands can be clearly seen on the horizon. Top Right: A view South from Te Karo Bay. Bottom Left & Right: Pictures from Hot Water Beach. Firstly a view of the beach, and secondly some seagulls enjoy the water too.

We didn't have time to linger around though and soon hit the road again, North to Whitianga. Once again, we had a stop and a quick look around the beautiful natural harbour of Whitianga. At this point, we'd finished going North and turned West and crossed the Coromandel range to Coromandel Town. From here, it was time to head South back towards Hamilton. We travelled down the remainder of the Coromandel Coast to Thames, where we crossed the Waihou River back into the Waikato.

Some more views of the Coromandel Coast. Top Left: A sign reminds us of the large number of gold mines on the Peninsular. Top Right: On the descent into Coromandel Town, the houses nestling in the base of the hills. Bottom Left: Some kind of fish farm sits just off the coast from Coromandel Town. Bottom Right: A strange outcrop of rock just along the main Thames - Coromandel road.

Eventually, we made it back to Hamilton in time to meet up with some of BJ's friends and get back out into Hamilton City to attend the big Waikato vs Wellington rugby match. Waikato Stadium was perfectly geared up for the viewing public, with the stands being right up against the pitch. The quality of rugby was pretty good, and there were some big hits in the game - one in particular between Waikato's Liam Messem and Wellington's Thomas Waldrom saw both leave the pitch injured - Messem knocked out cold.

Pictures of the rugby.

From the Top Left: (i) A barely conscious Liam Messem is carried off the field

(ii) A scrum about to take place.

(iii) Marty looks away. BJ looks pleased. I look confused.

Wellington dominated the match and walked away winners by plenty!

We soon headed back to the accomodation, and after watching the late night Rugby World Cup match on TV, caught some sleep

Saturday was much more laid back. The weather was fine as we headed out to Hamilton's Hockey turf to watch Vanessa play for her university team - twice. The Waikato University team won the first match, but lost the second against Te Awamutu by 2 goals to 1.

I relax at the hockey. I admit that I was pretty tired and a little hungover. The sleep and relaxation would do me good. It also gave time for mental preparation for the mini-golf... Maybe.

The afternoon was spent playing a particularly annoying mini-golf course. A multi-national tournament included myself (UK), BJ and Vanessa (NZ), Vanessa's boyfriend Ian (Aus) and BJ's girlfriend Christina (Ire). I feel happy to disclose that in a highly erratic game, the United Kingdom representative walked away as winner.

Sunday was a little wet. Despite this BJ, Christina and I took on a round of 9 hole Pitch n Putt. BJ triumphed by a single shot in treacherous (and highly amusing) conditions.

Then we headed back down to Wellington the way we'd come up on the Thursday, stopping only at a Geothermal Reserve, Orakei Korako and Taupo. We arrived back in Wellington just as the sun came down; somewhat exhausted but with a great weekend behind us.

Sunset closes the weekend from the Paekakariki Hill Road. Such beautiful views seem to be commonplace in New Zealand!