The drive from Mount Maunganui on the east coast, to Hamilton in the centre of the Waikato, is a memorable and stunning drive. The road follows the Ohinimuri river and winds along the base of the Karangahake Gorge. The bush covered slopes rise steeply from the edge of the road and tower above you. This was the centre of one of the richest gold seams in the late 1880’s. Further along the coast gold is still being mined at the Martha Mine in Waihi. It was also sacred Māori land and was fiercely defended from the gold mining hordes. Some concessions were made to allow both cultures to use the area, but of course the indigenous Māori had the worst of the bargaining. It is only in the past couple of decades that the land rights have allowed the Māori to reclaim his land It is an area steeped in history.
After passing through the Gorge and into the beautiful Waikato country were the lush green patch work paddocks are grazed by the many herds of dairy cows. I particularly love the soft fawn coloured jersey cow with the large,limpid brown eyes who produces the richest milk of all the breeds and is very popular as a butter milk producer. I milked many of these adorable animals during my time in New Zealand.
Before reaching Hamilton you pass through the town of Paeroa. Renowned for the developement of the soft drink “Lemon and Paeroa”. It is a great mixer with “Jim Beam” or brandy….. In its honour is a huge monument to the iconic bottle.