Things to do in Hamilton when it’s dead

Hamilton’s spent a lot of time and money trying to convince the country that it is quite interesting and not boring. In the ’90s its city motto was “Where it’s happening”, then later “More than you’d expect”. Then, due to not being able to come up with a decent replacement slogan, they just went with “Hamilton”. Or Hamilton because it’s all on in Hamilton.

So just went it looked like people would start believing that it was, in fact, the events capital of Aotearoa NZ, the coach of the South African rugby team revealed that the Springboks would not be coming to Hamilton in advance of their game because “there is nothing in Hamilton”. Instead they heartbreakingly opted for fun in the sun in the Gold Coast.

But while Surfers Paradise is warm and has a beach, it’s still a bit of a pantswagon. And as Hamilton is a pantswagon too, perhaps we should pay closer attention to the list of the top five things to do in Hamilton, as reckoned by the Hamilton City Council.

Visit Hamilton Gardens.
The Hamilton gardens are quite nice and also world class, both of which are important in this modern world. You can pick your favourite garden and rent it out for your wedding or civil union ceremony. There are a couple of statues of Egyptian gods that were twice defaced by outraged Christians, but you don’t have to have your wedding near those if you don’t want to.

Feed the animals at Hamilton Zoo.
If you’re old, like me, you’ll know this as the Hilldale Game Farm, which brings on a feeling of mild nausea. Hamilton Zoo is an adequate zoo, but it’s hilly (waaaah, I don’t like walking up hills) and if feeding the animals is the best a zoo can offer a visitor, something is wrong with society in general.

Take a walk round Hamilton Lake.
Lake Rotoroa is quite nice. In the ’90s Boney M played an outdoor concert there. I didn’t go, but my friend did and she reported that some crazy lady was yelling at her group for daring to stand up and dance, blocking her view of the stage. “Sit down! We’re trying to watch the Boney M’s!”

A night out on Hood St.
Hood Street, which was immortalised in Katchafire’s 2002 song Who You With is part of the messed-up downtown ghetto of restaurants and bars down the south end of Victoria Street. The only place actually worth visiting down Hood Street is David’s Emporium – one of those wonderful shops that sells lots of stuff that you didn’t realise you needed until you just went and bought a dozen of them, like notebooks with goggle eyes.

The Waikato River Trail.
If you walk along the segment that goes from the Cobham Drive bridge to the Wellington Street Beach, there’s a fitness trail, with all these wooden and metal obstacles to hurl yourself over, through or around. Then when you’ve finished you can go to Hamilton East KFC.

I’m just surprised that the list has left out all the interesting things that Hamilton’s rich and vibrant downtown area has to offer the visitor. Oh, wait…

2 thoughts on “Things to do in Hamilton when it’s dead”

  1. When I was a kid I lived in Hillcrest, and a pretty part of the Waikato River Trail starts in the park at 30 Balfour Crescent and heads toward town.
    This way you pass thousands of sycamore seeds on your way to the bridges.

  2. I was stranded in Hamilton for one night trying to get a connecting bus onto Raglan on Auckland Anniversary day (or somesuch), having not realised Hamilton would be trying to ride on its northern neighbour’s coattails.

    Luckily I was taken in by lovely Petra and we had fish’n’chips and she took me on a walking tour around Waikato campus. And the sunset that night was rather nice. I saw a bit of downtown Hamilton the next day and we wandered alongside the river for a bit.

    In the end, Hamilton reminded me a lot of Inverness. I can’t really say why. But I suppose I wasn’t in town long enough to really evaluate the city (or perhaps I was?).

    The library was pretty nice.

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