A pleasant drive south over the Bombay hills into the rich dairy farmland of the Waikato, then turning east . A short stop at an elevated view over the Hauraki plains, with the Kaimai Coromandel range in the distance, makes for a great photo stop. It’s all flat driving across the plains through farmland as we follow the Kaimai Range to a disused dairy factory for a tea/coffee break. You may like to try the cheese platter.
Our scenic drive to Sanctuary Mountain continues to impress as we catch up with the Waikato river, before stopping in the rural town of Arapuni and a short walk over a swing bridge to view the Arapuni hydro electric power station. The first on the Waikato dated 1929. We cross over the dam and it’s a short drive to Mt Maungatautari (Sanctuary mountain). A mainland ecological island created by a 47km pest proof fence, Sanctuary Mountain is the largest of it’s type in the world. Join an informative 1 ½ hour guided tour about many of New Zealand’s rarest and most endangered plants, insects, birds, fish, geckos, frogs, bats and flora that co-exist in this spectacular environment, on one of the many well maintained tracks to the 16m viewing tower. A picnic lunch is included here. On to lake Karapiro, where we cross over the dam of the second hydro-electric power station on the Waikato River, dated 1947 for a photo stop, with The majestic 797m Mt Maungatautari (Sanctuary mountain) looming in the background.
The Hamilton Gardens were awarded International Garden of The Year 2014. Not technically a botanical garden, but rather 21 themed gardens representing the art, beliefs, lifestyles, and traditions of different civilizations or historical garden styles. Our drive back to Auckland takes us through the city of Hamilton, some small townships and past the Sacred Maori burial ground of Mt Taupiri.
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