I was quite accurate in my predictions of the rest of the day yesterday. I booked a hostel in Hamilton for three nights, the bus to Hamilton and the train from there to National Park on Sunday 4th. I also had supper at a place called Revive just down the street from the hostel, and a hot chocolate from the place nest door.
I also met Mike, the guy who had his iPod stolen. Turns out it was at the same time as my money was stolen, so chances are they won’t find who’s responsible. Had a good laugh with Mike and a few of the girls in the dorm about the snoring guy. And yes, he did keep us awake again.
So, Thursday. I had breakfast in the hostel, stuffed everything into my bags and checked out by 8am. I got a taxi over to the coach station, and traffic wasn’t bad so I was there an hour early.
The journey to Hamilton was mostly through rolling green countryside, and it was only two hours but I still managed to fall asleep. The driver was doing a commentary though, which was a nice touch I didn’t expect, and that kept waking me. We stopped for refreshments at Rangiriri, which is across the road from a battle site between Maori and British troops in 1863. We also passed a Maori cemetery; and through Ngaruawahia, the site of the Maori Queen’s headquarters. She died fairly recently, and is buried at the cemetery we passed.
We arrived in Hamilton around noon, and since I didn’t really know where I was going or how far it was, I got a taxi to the Eagles Nest hostel. Its a small place, and essentially someone’s home. It’s got more of a bed and breakfast feel to it – too clean and tidy for a backpackers! And it’s run by Hugh and Moira, who moved here from Fife fifty years ago. It’s also the closest hostel to the city centre: most are about 2km out of town.
Hamilton is the fourth largest city in NZ. It has a population of less than 150,000. This country is sparsely populated! But it is a university town, so there are three cinemas, lots of cafes and bars and apparently a decent nightlife. And I can’t decide if we build our towns and cities really big, or if the rest of the world build them really small. For example, Wrexham has about half the population of Hamilton, if not less, yet it feels as though there are far more facilities in Wrexham. And it’s the same everywhere!
Anyways, after dropping my stuff off in the hostel, I headed back into town for a look around. I wandered around the shopping mall and picked up the cinema timetables. I went to the information centre/bus station and booked my trip to Hobbiton tomorrow, then for a coffee and waited until Happy Feet was showing at the cinema. My God what an emotional film! You go from happy to sad and back again several times. But it does end happily though!
After the film I went on a bit of the Riverside Walk, but not too far since I didn’t really know where it led to! Back at the hostel I sat out on the terrace to escape the bad TV, and made the most of the free tea and coffee. I watched a bit of TV later on, chatted to the other guests, and went to bed around 11pm. There are no windows in the room so it goes pitch black, and really quiet!