By Ben |

Thurs, June 27

Jessie was not ready to leave Rotorua without seeing more of the geothermal attractions, so we went to Whakarewarewa, which has been a tourist attraction since before colonization and is now a "living Māori village," meaning that people live there to learn and teach pre-colonial customs. We did not tour the village, but we had a lovely scenic walk on the trails past steaming and bubbling pools.

Next we drove back to Hamilton (which we had passed through on the highway the day before) to tour Hamilton Gardens. The docents were quick to point out that it is not a botanical garden but a museum of gardening styles from around the world. We enjoyed strolling around and taking pictures, but I would have learned more - particularly in the New Zealand native garden - had there been more signage. The only garden with identifying signs was the one showcasing plants that colonists had brought with them from Europe, and I already knew most of those!

I was eager to try "freedom camping" since it was the main reason we had gotten a self-contained campervan, and we bought more groceries with the intention of continuing to camp for three more nights as planned. The place we found to park overnight in Hamilton was a stadium parking lot, which was fine - I got a good look at the southern sky, and we even got some passable photos of the stars. We decided to see if the top bunk was warmer than the bottom one, and it was, but very confining, and the bed was too firm for either of us to sleep well.