I am in New Zealand! I’m visiting my boyfriend, Frazer, who is currently training as a pilot out here.
I arrived in Auckland at 5.30am on Friday after a surprisingly tolerable and restful journey (I got at least seven hours sleep!) with Qantas via Dubai and Melbourne.
First stop in New Zealand though: McDonald’s. It’s early and I need food, having mostly forsaken food on my last two flights in favour of sleep. I was immediately happy with the muffins, and reeling from the revelation you can ‘build your own burger’ here (though that doesn’t help me as a vegetarian.
The rest of my first day was mostly spent checking out Hamilton, including going to The Base which is New Zealand’s largest shopping centre. Hamilton isn’t the most exciting city but it was interesting to see how it all looked – much more like America than England, for sure.
Dinner was Pizza Hut takeaway – since a classic pizza is just $5 here – so cheap! The stuffed crust wasn’t as good as English Pizza Hut but, again, excellent for $5.
My second day was also quite chilled out but involved a trip to Hamilton Gardens, a beautiful (and free) set of themed and conceptual gardens alongside the Waikato River.
The paradise gardens were our favourite bit: sections themed around traditional/typical English, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Modernist garden styles. Our favourite was the Chinese Scholars Garden, which had a beautiful wisteria bridge, red pavilion and views across the river. In second and third place were the Italian Renaissance Garden and the Japanese Garden of Contemplation.
Elsewhere in Hamilton Gardens there was an Indian wedding going on at the lake which was a beautiful setting for it, plus more places to wander aimlessly and admire the greenery.
Saturday’s dinner was Burger Fuel – which featured the best vegetarian ad campaign I’ve ever seen. I had a tofu burger and a caramel thickshake, both of which were absolutely delicious, and Frazer enjoyed his chicken burger too.
Then to sleep! I went to bed at about 9pm, an improvement at least on 7pm the night before (waking up very early too…) Come back tomorrow to hear about the Hobbiton movie set tour at Matamata!