My journey down North Island was very much dictated by the train journey and deciding where I might want to stay at the stops, based on what was around. It’s about the journey not necessarily the sight seeing. So Hamilton was because of the Waitomo caves which are by no means nearby and there is no public transport to get there.
The journey however was a complete joy. I arrived at the Strand station on the appointed day at the appointed time in my usual Uber. Everyone else seemed to be walking which put me to shame! But I did have more luggage.
The train was a delight. I was given my boarding card and my luggage was tagged and put in the luggage car. Coach D seat 7A madam. Three coaches of seating, one cafe and bar coach one luggage coach and a one open viewing coach right up front and a huge locomotive engine. Very comfortable and apparently the train was going to be full but I had two seats to myself for my journey. The windows were huge and there were skylight windows above them as well. There were some screens down the centre aisle with the map and headphones. There was a commentary and when they had something to say it beeped and a yellow bar came on across the top of the screen which changed to green when they started talking. Really interesting commentary. There was an announcement at the start stating that Wifi was not available on board however the latest version of Windows Vista was available, operated by looking to the left and then looking to the right. Very effective operating system if you ask me.
I arrived in Hamilton far too early for my check In at the AirBNB which was with a family this time. I had decided to go and find a hairdresser after all it had now been eight weeks and I know it’s hard to believe the silver was showing. There were no available taxis and they didn’t do left luggage because the station is only open when the train comes in. Surprise surprise. Anyway it was only twenty minutes walk into town so I decided I could manage that. But I hadn’t got as far as the end of the platform where an old man in a car was stopped waiting for me. Where are you going, the town centre, can I give you a lift. Now I know I am not supposed to take lifts from strange men in strange towns but he looked harmless enough so I took him up on his offer. Then I realised the car was a courtesy car from a car repair company. It soon became apparent that although he was harmless he was a little slow behind the wheel.... will I survive this five minute journey I thought, especially after he went the wrong way and he’s lived there all his life, no I am not joking. He told me voluntarily that his car was in the shop because someone had run into him. I believed him honestly. Anyway he eventually set me down and I proceeded to walk the length of the main road looking for a hairdressers. Needless to say I was at the wrong end of the high street but having doubled back and almost given up hope I realised I should have looked on the Google god, and found I was within feet of one. So by the time I got in there and they had a slot straight away I was glad of the rest from carting this baggage around. I was also extremely thankful for the old mans lift.
Hair in much better state I then went in search of a pedicure having asked for advice at the hairdressers of course. So feet and hair done tick. Lunch next, I went into a local pub attached to the local casino, yes tiny town with casino on the Main Street. I opted for the mussels and they were huge, but they were also very chewy. A big disappointment I must say. My landlady messaged me and picked me up from there which was great and I was doubly thankful. Arrival at my digs went without incident she knew where she was going. My room was fine, but by now I wasn’t feeling too good, possibly the mussels. Anyway I had a fairly quiet evening after visiting the local supermarket for one or two bits and the next morning felt much better, got my washing up to date and then set off for the day. I went to the Hamilton Lake, Lake Rotoroa, which was really beautiful. I walked around the complete lake twice, seeing people going in the opposite direction as they did the same. Eight kilometres in all, the first time around I was quite slow because I was taking lots of photographs and the second time around I was more focussed on getting my heart rate up and trying to get to under eleven minutes per kilometre. Although I did stop for a picnic lunch about halfway around.
I have to say it must be a beautiful place to live, there were houses almost all the way around the lake, and a fabulous children’s playground. A beautiful rose garden as well at the entrance and a lovely young girl dear heading all the roses, she said it was very theraputic.
It was a lovely day and there were many birds around and lots of chicks. I saw ducks and geese and coots and some pukekos. Very funny looking birds they have very big legs a bit like a chicken only longer. Their feet are jointed like toes and they can hold a piece of bread in one foot and then peck from it. The funniest sight though was if one pushing another along from behind with his claw. I wondered if it was some sort of mating ritual but the other bird was being pushed along and taking absolutely no notice, so maybe not. I did see a pair getting it on later but didn’t see the associated mating ritual if there is one. I saw a drake desperately trying to impress a duck at one point with his colourful neck feathers all fluffed out. Another woman and I bburst out laughing at the sight.
The bus back and made myself a bit of dinner and had a chat with one of the girls and the man of the house for a while and then left them to their dinner and to prepare myself for my next train journey to Ohakune the following morning.
i really I enjoyed my short stay in Hamilton and who cares if I didn’t see the caves. See you In Ohakune