How we spent St Patrick’s Day in Hamilton, NZ

After breakfast this morning, Sue and I searched online for a place to stay for tomorrow night. We had planned to go drive around the Coromandel Peninsula on the west side of the North Island — quite a few people have recommended it to us. But we couldn’t find any suitable accommodation and the more I looked at what there was to do on the peninsula, the less enthusiastic I was about going there. A lot of driving on narrow winding roads along the coast, and for what? We’re not interested in surfing or hanging out at the beach. 

Change of plans. We have a week left in New Zealand — why don’t we head up to Whangarei, the northernmost city in New Zealand. That can be our ‘base’ from which to head up to Cape Reinga, the northernmost point. And on the map it looks like there’s lots to do there. So we booked a place on AirBnB. All set for the weekend.

Today is St Patrick’s Day. I looked through both suitcases for something green to wear — NOTHING! Well, that’s not cool. Oh well, my pink shirt will have to suffice. Although I really wanted to go golfing today, we decided we’d drive our car down to the Hamilton Gardens, and spend a good chunk of the day there. Dr David, our host, highly recommended it. We were more or less ready to go but when I stepped out onto the patio I saw that Dr David had parked two bikes complete with helmets, vests, locks, and tire pump, for us to use. Okay, we’ll CYCLE there. We got our cycling shorts on, adjusted the seat heights and the helmet straps, checked google maps on my phone for a bike path, and off we were.

I gotta say one thing about New Zealand — it is a CIVILIZED little country. The people are very friendly, the countryside is super clean, the roads narrow but well maintained, everything is nearly twice as expensive as it is in Canada (except golf), the people prefer organic everything over chemically-improved food, and fitness is ‘in’. And cyclists are respected on the road. And they have marvellous walking, and hiking, and cycling paths. WAY ahead of North America. 

And so it was, that we cycled twenty kilometres along the river, on beautiful paved and shaded cycling paths, from our house in the northern suburbs of Hamilton down past the central business district, to the world-famous Hamilton Gardens.

We had lunch in the gardens and then spent another hour visiting the various garden displays within the park.

And then we cycled twenty kilometres back to our apartment. Just enough time for a little happy hour before we got into the car and drove a few minutes north of our place to a nearby golf course. Why not? It’s Friday afternoon, the sun is shining, and we haven’t swung our clubs for a couple of days. 

Well, the golf course wasn’t quite as good as we’ve become accustomed to. It turned out to be a nine-hole course with ‘double’ tees and pins, and the fairways ran parallel to the river, and with each other. And so it wasn’t completely surprising, although quite unsettling, when, on the third tee box, we had to stand and wait and watch the two guys ahead of us drop their clubs and run back to the clubhouse to fetch a golf cart so they could help a poor old man who’d been teeing off on the 4th hole when he was struck by the tee shot from one of the aforementioned guys on the third tee. YIKES! Not a pretty site, and one of my worst nightmares. So that sort of took some of the fun out of the round for us. That, and the fact that we both had had better games lately. So, after nine holes, we packed up our clubs and went in search of supper.

Although we’d considered finding an Irish pub and making that our evening meal and entertainment, it WAS Friday night, and well, that really is pizza night. So we picked up a pizza and ended up back at our apartment, having a great supper, watching the sun go down, listening to the cicadas and crickets. Not very ‘Irish’ but a nice conclusion to a ‘busy’ day for us here in Hamilton. 

Oh, and the B&B we’d booked this morning? Cancelled — hosts are going away for the weekend. So we’re back to square one — not sure exactly where we’ll end up tomorrow night. But we’ll ‘worry’ about that in the morning.