After a yummy breakfast of Kiwi fare, Hubbards cereal (which if you can get hold of it in the UK is very tasty), my tourist guide and I decided on the plan of action for the day. We decided to head for the coast and Mount Maunganui or the Mount as the locals call it. The drive through the countryside was beautiful -green and lush with a variety of trees, pines, conifers, ferns and rolling hills. It took about 90 minutes to get to the coast and the dormant volcanic cone of Mount Maunganui stands out overlooking the town below. After passing through some high cloud on the road down to the coast, the weather was glorious and you can see why it is such a popular holiday spot. We took advantage of the sunny weather and sat watching the young surf-lifesavers being put through their paces. After a spot of lunch (another Kiwi favourite of sweetcorn fritters which were lovely), we headed up the coast to another beach spot called Waihi. This is a much smaller, quieter place but just as lovely and it was here that AM introduced me to the Jelly Tip and Lemon & Paeroa drink. The Jelly Tip is frozen raspberry jelly at the top with vanilla ice-cream below, all covered in dark chocolate and is delicious. Lemon & Paeroa is a lemonade-type drink with some special ingredient that gives it a distinct flavour but again is really nice. Later that afternoon we passed through the town of Paeroa where they have a large replica bottle of the famous drink on show! In Waihi town itself we had a look at the martha open pit gold mine which is huge. Waihi is known as New Zealand's 'heart of gold' as a result of the gold and silver which was extracted here.
Photos to add when I have time.
Back at Hamilton, we had a lovely dinner cooked by AM's dad and took a walk along the Waikato river which is just below the house and flows here all the way from Lake Taupo. Later that night I was able to see the Southern Cross properly for the first time and now know how to find South (could be useful some day!) There is also a comet visible at the moment which you are supposed to be able to see at sunset but so far it has eluded us.