Oct 1 day 31 Ngaruawahia to Hamilton 21 km 9:30-2:00
Literally a walk in the park. Woke late, determined to enjoy the Arrow Motel bed as long as possible, then strolled out of Ngaruawahia on way to Hamilton. Ngaruawahia is an interesting town, apparently the home of some significant Maori leaders and important in their political structure. Really great place caught in the curve of the Waikato river next to an impressive mountain range (which I hiked yesterday). The walk down to Hamilton was first on the road but soon on a beautiful riverside bicycle path, past small parks, pretty houses, and lots of folks walking dogs or riding bicycles. Arrival in Hamilton put me in search of a hostel. I discovered it didn’t open just then, so had lunch and a pint out on a patio of The Helm with speakers blaring Fleetwood Mac. Thought I was either back in college or at a Clinton campaign rally. Checked into the hostel, Yvonne gave me the Atlanta Georgia Discount. Then I proceeded to work up my laundry, though I was in line behind one of my roommates, Wayne, who does not speak English as his first language and I think has not spent a lot of time on his own– had real difficulty with his laundry. Still, a good humored fellow. I then wandered downtown in search of a hat to replace my gorse-stolen New Zealand wild-man hat. Opted for a lightweight running hat– has brim, but not as hot as my previous oilskin topper. Hamilton has a city feel in that there are a lot of takeaway restaurants– they alternate Indian and Thai– some tall bank buildings, and a number of sex shops. Had a filling meal at “The Londoner,” an old-fashioned English pub with some good ales. Then wandered back to the hostel for a quiet evening of reading (Robert MacFarlane’s Landmarks) and an evening conversation with Daniel (a Kiwi in Hamilton taking a university course) and roommate Wayne (a Chinese man on his way to Australia for a new job). Much of the conversation was about the NZ University system, but we did discuss politics. It is disconcerting how aware they are of American politics (because there is often direct economic or political affect). They follow the candidates and take seriously their statements. Of course we are in the middle of the clown car season, with people who could not hope to govern well getting all the media attention. I find it sad that people on the other side of the world are taking seriously what most serious Americans are content to ignore.