It was time to leave my new home, Whitianga. I may only live in four or five locations during my stay in New Zealand, so moving on is a big deal. I went for one final run in the Coromandel and was rewarded with a beautiful view of Whitianga from the other side of the estuary. See you in a bit Whitianga.
The journey from Whitianga to Hamilton usually bussed via Auckland and take approximately seven hours. However, I want to see as many places as I can, even if I don't get long there. So I booked my bus ticket via Tauranga, a city on the east coast. I only had three hours there and nowhere to put my outrageous quantity of baggage. Izzy found a vegan and gluten friendly cafe right next to the bus stop where I had a delicious donut followed by the best burger I've ever eaten. Nine hours after leaving Whitianga I arrived in Hamilton and got settled into the Airbnb. It's weird being inside after living in a tent for the past two months.
Hamilton is the fourth largest city in New Zealand and is positioned centrally on the north island. It's not somewhere I would choose to stay in long term but for the weekend it was delightful. I ran the Hamilton Lake parkrun and smashed a long term goal of running 5km under 20 minutes. That afternoon I explored the city's shopping area and made the most of having a big selection of shops for the first time since Auckland. The following morning I ran to the Hamilton Gardens where I planned to spend 20 minutes wondering the enclosed gardens before running home and packing for leaving. The only problem is that the Hamilton Gardens are brilliant. I ended up spending an hour there and that was me rushing and I didn't even see everything. You can easily spend an entire day there and it's free entry! If you're in Hamilton make sure you go to the gardens!
I left Hamilton Sunday morning a took the bus four hours down the country to the small town of Raetihi. It's clear that this town is no longer in its peak but it's nice enough. There's a small supermarket with very high prices and some trails heading up into the hills so what else could you want? I'm staying in a hotel with 80 or more travellers and backpackers for the Christmas period. It's been an interesting experience so far, but generally it's been awesome meeting like-minded people.