Sunday 22 November 2020

Definitely a lovesome thing. God wot.

Somewhat reluctantly, we skimmed up to reception at Kinloch Manor in our little golf cart, and surrendered it before driving away homewards. But not straight home. Trusting to the GPS, we headed off on relatively minor roads towards Hamilton, where I had an appointment. To be honest, my sense of direction was bamboozled by the route, and we could have been anywhere. But though it was so unfamiliar, it was certainly scenic. We followed the Waikato for a while, and then headed into the hills, going through few little towns, so I was relieved eventually to reach the outskirts of Hamilton.

Here I was to explore one of the treasures of what would be NZ's most mocked city, if Palmerston North hadn't bagged that title. I don't really know why people laugh at the Tron, and honestly, if Hamilton Gardens are any indication of its worth - well, shut up right now. They are magnificent! Also, big.

They cover 54 hectares, much of it the usual expanses of lawns, with rose gardens, rhododendrons, big trees, lake and so on - but, most notably, also including 21 enclosed gardens, each with a separate theme: Japanese, Indian, Italian, tropical, surrealist, modernist, Tudor, sustainable - and more, so much more. They are all beautifully designed, immaculately kept, colourful, interesting, and so photogenic that they are irresistible these days to Instagrammers wanting the perfect backdrop for their selfies.

I wandered for ages, fascinated, and could have spent much more time there if I didn't have a long drive ahead of me and a ferry to catch. I never got to Sissinghurst while I lived in England, but I truly think that Vita Sackville-West would be impressed by what Hamilton has. I certainly was, and would go back again any day. Great work, Kirikiriroa!

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