Cambridge and surrounds
Hamilton Travel Blog› entry 3 of 20 › view all entries
Left Taupo on a glorious sunny morning to head to Cambridge (stayed here, about 20km south of Hamilton). Stopped at Tokoroa to buy a thermos (my coffee fixes were getting expensive!) and to see the "Pine Man of Tokoroa" with his enormous chainsaw - a tribute to the pine loggers in this area. The man was erected by the local Rotary Club - we thought he could come in useful for the Kyneton Rotary Club working bees! Stopped in Tirau for morning tea and to see the corrugated iron dog and sheep - the town is famous for corrugated iron and all the shops have little creations adorning them.
We arrived in Cambridge at lunch time and found it to be really lovely. It's set along a river and is very much like an English village with its old trees and village green, also a nice lake you can walk around with lots of ducks etc.. This time is famous for race horse studs as well as several famous athletes - we saw Sarah Olmer in the street, a NZ cyclist who is currently advertising McDonalds - the only reason we recognized her! The town is well worth a stop, even if just to have a wander around the shops and streets for a break.
The next day we visited the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves ($35pp incl entrance to the Museum). Our best advice here is to start early and get on the 9 or 9.30am tours, because after that the tour buses arrive and it becomes a bit chaotic. The guide gave us a good tour of the cave, and then put us on little dinghies to travel along the river and actually see the glow worms. the boat is pulled along by a rope, so no noise, just very peaceful water noises with incredible little green lights overhead (and reflecting on the water). The millions of lights are spectacular and certainly worth a visit if you are in this area. The Museum was pretty small but had some interesting finds from the caves and also a history of caving in the area. There were some skeletons of interesting animals that had got into the caves and couldn't get out, including the big bird which is now extinct (and the name of which I suddenly can't remember - actually I can, the moa!).
1/2km down the road there is an Angora Rabbit Farm and at no cost to you, you can watch an angora rabbit being shorn! The poor little fellas are stretched out on a mediaeval rack and then shorn with normal sheep shears - they shake like leaves the whole time, which we can understand. Mind you, they get shorn every 3 months so they should get used to it! Normally the shearing takes place at 1.30pm but we were "lucky" enough to arrived just before a bus of Japanese tourists, so didn't have to wait at all.
On the way back to Cambridge we stopped at the Kiwi House in Otorohanga - it is a sanctuary and breeding centre for kiwis and other native NZ birds. It's quite interesting and well laid out, with all the trees etc., labelled and their native uses explained eg: Maori medicine, etc.
On our last day in the Hamilton area, we drove over to Raglan where the beaches are famous with surfers (a famous surfing movie was filmed at Manu Beach (I think it was called The Long Break, but we're not surfers). Had a cuppa on the beach and watched the surfers - lots of lying on the boards, standing up briefly then falling over, quite amusing actually! Then headed back to Hamilton itself and visited the Waikato Museum (free) which although small, is pretty good. It had some quite interesting Maori artefacts and information, including the big canoe donated by the Maori queen.