For my last weekend in New Zealand, I decided to book a last-minute trip up north to Hamilton in the Waikato region. I stayed with a gal I was (virtually) introduced to by a mutual friend - as fate would have it, we loved each other. Despite having never met until I was at her doorstep, it was like we had known each other for years. She's a fricken' riot - such good people - and the perfect tour guide. Don't you just love when that happens?
On Saturday, we packed in a lot of exploring. Our first stop was the Hamilton Gardens. I'll be honest, I'm not usually one for staring at flowers, let alone spending an hour or two doing it, but it was definitely worth it. My favorites were the Italian Renaissance and Indian Char Bagh Gardens.
After the gardens, we headed for the Hamilton Zoo. I had to let me inner child run free and my nerd flag fly for a bit. In my what-to-do-in-Hamilton search I stumbled upon one very important piece of information: the Hamilton Zoo has Red Pandas. So, to the Zoo to see the pandas we went. It was everything I had hoped it would be, aside from getting to play and cuddle with the RPs - that's unfortunately not something I got to check off the bucket list this time. I seriously contemplated crawling the fence into their little habitat, but decided against it in fear of getting deported.
After the zoo, we walked around the mall area and then went for an evening walk around the lake. So. much. walking. I slept like a baby that night, that's for sure.
Sunday morning, we (well, she did) packed our lunches, hopped in the car, and set off for Putaruru for the walk to the Blue Springs. Round-trip, it was about a three-hour endeavor. The water in the springs sits at an icy 50 degrees year-round. Su was brave enough to venture into the springs, but I sat on the sidelines as a spectator. I'm like a cat - I don't care for water and there's definitely no chance if it's ice cold.
For dinner, we went to The Original Thai Restaurant in Hamilton. I'm no foodie, but I sure do love to eat. We both had pad Thai, and it was phenomenal. Definitely worth a stop if you're a Thai food junky like yours truly.
It was the perfect way to spend my last weekend in New Zealand. It's hard to believe I'm off to Hawaii in just three days! Stay tuned for more adventure y'all.