Off the beaten track - around Hamilton

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February 25th 2016
Published: February 25th 2016
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If you live overseas and are planning on doing a bus tour of NZ, stop reading right now. This blog is not for you.

If you live overseas and are planning on driving round NZ, you are crazy, you have no idea how windy and narrow our roads are and have you considered doing a tour??

If you live overseas and are planning on driving round NZ and are confident that this is the best way of seeing the real NZ, good on you. Well done. I hope you know which side on the windy and narrow roads we drive on. Many tourists don't.

If you live in NZ and are looking for ideas of where to go round Hamilton, keep reading.

My advice, if you are visiting Hamilton (or any other city in NZ), is to get off the beaten track. Don't just stick to the main roads and the main towns. They are boring. There are always other options. If you want to see the countryside, let me know and I will lend you my Navman. It does its absolute best to take me anywhere I want to go via long, time-consuming, often unsealed roads. And it does its best to attempt to pronouce the Maori place names, with little or no success. But I get to explore different places, take photos and wonder where the nearest dairy is.

Why should you get off the beaten track? You will still get where you want to go but in a quieter way with plenty of photo opportunities you would have missed on the highways.

Here are a few examples:

Matangi - a small village on the way to Morrinsville or Cambridge. There is a reserve, right next to the church, where you can stop and let your dog have a run. Just make sure the gates into the school grounds are closed first. Look for the sign showing where Black Dog Furniture hangs out and you will discover an old, deserted dairy factory that has had small businesses move in and make themselves at home. Fantastic and a great place to get some unusual photos.

Huntly - I am not going to bore you with details that you can Google. Just get off the main road and have a look at the power station. There is a lovely scenic route from Huntly through to Ngaruawahia. Even my Navman can find that one!

Ngaruawahia - great bakeries, a small town that has had the Waikato Expressway avoid it completely, but it has a fully fenced dog park for those of you who have travelling companions who need it.

Pirongia - avoid the bakery as the prices are far too high. On the way there, from Hamilton, you will see places that are a sad indication of what NZ used to be like - a neglected war memorial and a sad looking memorial hall. You will see these in numerous small settlements throughout NZ.

I grew up in small town NZ. I understand their problems and personalities. I wish more people would take the time to visit them as they offer a type of hospitality and uniqueness you won't find by simply driving along our highways.

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


Matangi Matangi

Behind the church is a reserve where you can walk your dog - or, if there is no-one round and the gates into the school are shut, let it off to stretch its legs.
Ngaruawahia dog parkNgaruawahia dog park
Ngaruawahia dog park

This is a fully fenced dog park. It isn't as big as the one at Horotiu (5 minutes up the road towards Hamilton) and I would advise you to make sure you are the only ones there, but it is a brilliant place to let your 4 legged friend get some exercise before continuing your journey.
Pirongia Pirongia

In front of the old hall.
Pirongia Pirongia

One of the random things you will find to photograph.
pirongia pirongia

A few minutes out of Pirongia. A sad little war memorial - basically a flag pole inside a rusty fence. But it is fully fenced so I was able to let my 4-legged assistant have a quick run in there while I took some photos.
Pirongia Pirongia

The sad looking across from the war memorial. A very typical NZ scene.

Always keep your eyes open for unusual things to photograph in our small towns.

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