Day 48 Hamilton. What more can I say.
Tuesday 26 November
Hakarimaka Summit to Hamilton
Total distance 759.5km
Elevation: Mostly downhill and flat
Weather: Foggy, then cloudy, then very hot
I will start with the great stuff. I arrived at my accommodation. I got to my room. It has a bath. It even has a plug. I don't have to clean said bath before using it. What complete bliss that the first thing I was able to do was soak my aching body and feet. I didn't even mind the cockroach type critter in the corner of the bathroom. It was actually quite a pretty critter for a cockroach. There is a picture below. Someone may be able to reliably inform me of what it actually is.
Just before getting to the hotel I stopped for a burger. It was genuinely one of the best burgers I have ever had. I don't think I was overly influenced by the fact I was starving and hadn't had a tasty meal for days. The patty was tasty and juicy, the bacon perfectly cooked, the lettuce crispy and fresh and the bun beautifully fresh and lightly toasted. I was one happy camper.
Backing up to the beginning of the day... After a poor nights sleep on the Hakarimata Range, I got up early to take photos of the sunrise over the mighty Waikato River from the summit. I was packed and ready to go by 6.35am. I was impressed with how quickly I managed to pack up.
I arrived at the summit. There was even a wooden tower you could climb to see over the trees. Only one problem - the summit was completely fogged in. Go figure! So no photos, but starting so early did mean I could get to Hamilton for my yummy late lunch.
I made my way down toward Ngaruawahia. Down, down, down hundreds of steps. I completely get that I had climbed that height yesterday, but I was eternally grateful I hadn't had to do it this way around. I passed, (still don't know if that should be past), about a dozen people running and walking up to the summit for fitness. Pretty impressive for that early in the morning. Had lovely chats with a number of people. Most knew about Te Araroa and guessed that was what I was doing. A lovely chap offered to drive me to Hamilton. One small negative at this point was I had completely run out of water, so was pretty parched by the time I got to the bottom.
In Ngaruawahia I decided to have a cafe breakfast. I know the town gets a bad rap, but I encourage you to visit it some time. It is really pretty and so full of culture. The main street is full of flowering roses, and paved with cobble stones, and the historic places are beautifully cared for and presented. The breakfast choices however were slightly limited. I could have a pie, fried chicken, chips, battered fish, a fried lasagna square or cake. This was 8am. I opted for the lasagna square. For anyone who hasn't tried this delicacy, you really must. It is a piece of lasagna that has been waved over some mince to give you a sense it has real meat in it, but keeps you guessing. It is then crumbed and deep fried. I loved these as a kid, and it was nostalgic to have one. It also wasn't too bad on the way down. However for the next couple of hours I wasn't convinced it wasn't going to come back up.
The walk to Hamilton followed the Waikato River. It is a fully paved path with a spectacular footbridge. I love this river and it is a picturesque walk. Unfortunately the hard paving wrecked my feet early on, and I took many stops to massage them back to life. On one such break the lovely Geegee and her border collie stopped to chat and ended up giving me the contact details of a friend of hers that I can stay with when I get to Bluff. More Trail Angels.
This evening I had dinner with my sister Karen and nephew Mark. It was excellent to catch up, and Karen has offered to pick me up at the end of each day as I head for Mt Pirongia as she lives out that way. And she has a spa pool. OMG I have it made. Thank you Karen.
A note on Hamilton. I spent my secondary school years here and went to Waikato University. So I used to know it relatively well and liked it. It has the fantastic backdrop of the river. Unfortunately the city centre is a dive. So many main street shops are empty or unkempt and rough looking. It is such a shame as there is so much potential. I can unfortunately understand why it has a negative reputation.