So in our current stage of working holiday we are driving around the North Island from city to city, staying at airbnbs a few days at a time and checking out all the sights. After we left Auckland we went to Hamilton, a smaller city about 2 hours south of Auckland. We were only in Hamilton for one full day. Our host informed us that the must see location in town is the Hamilton Gardens. Gardens? Pshhh. Yeah I don’t know about that. But it was free and there wasn’t really much else to do in Hamilton so we decided to give it a shot.
We slept in pretty late that day (Alana must have turned the alarms off). After getting a late breakfast at this little restaurant known only as Vegan Buffet (one of the best/cheapest meals we’ve had so far), we headed off to the gardens for an afternoon of tip toeing through the tulips.
Much to my surprise, the gardens were actually really cool. There were a variety of different gardens all based on certain themes. The first group of gardens, known as the Paradise Collection, had ethnic themes like the Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Italian gardens. These were all pretty cool. Literally. It was really hot that day and these gardens tended to incorporate architecture from their respective countries as well as plants so there tended to be ample shade. This was more than welcome as it was very hot while we were there. Of this first group the US had a pretty poor showing. The Modernist Garden, which was supposedly based on the American southwest, was basically just a pool deck with a big picture of Marilyn Monroe.
The next group of gardens were called the Fantasy Collection. They included the Tudor garden, the Chinoiserie garden, and the Tropical garden. These ones were a little more abstract and a little less shady so I walked through them pretty quickly, Alana glaring back at me to get out of the small bits of shade and come marvel with her. When doing touristy things it’s important to strike a balance between doing what you want and seeing the things you “have to see.” Some things you “have to see” are really amazing. Others seem like a waste of time in retrospect. Though sometimes going to a popular place you have no personal interest in can be a really good opportunity to experience something new. Broaden your horizons and whatnot. And sometimes skipping out on the sights and doing your own thing can be even better. Ultimately I’ve found if you just go with your gut you’ll enjoy whatever it is you end up doing.
After that there was another group known as the Productive Gardens. These were all gardens that grew things to use, like the Herb Garden, the Kitchen Garden, and the Sustainable Backyard. These all smelled very nice. Except the compost section in the Sustainable Backyard. The Te Parapara garden featured traditional Maori food production and storage methods.
After several hours of walking around the gardens under the midday sun we were pretty tired. We found a nice shady spot on a hill next to a pond outside the gardens. We had a nice relaxing read before heading back into town. We had dinner that night at a Chinese place called the Chili House. It was very authentic. Evidently authentic Chinese food is not hard to come by even outside of Auckland.