Up early, checked out and on the road by 9am.
Just as well.
Our first mistake (and subsequent heated discussion) was the decision to take a scenic coastal detour as recommended by the guide books. This put another 50k onto the journey. The roads were very hard to drive. It was like going over the Alps twice, which hairpins, switchbacks and single lane bridges. It took forever. By the time we got to the coast I was hot, bothered and frazzled. We barely stopped a few minutes. I knew we had still a further 5 hour journey ahead of us.
Fortunately our detour took us directly past Whangeria Falls. These were really special and we took the time in the glorious weather to walk all around them. As it was so picturesque we decided to eat our picnic lunch overlooking the falls, that we had prepared before leaving (and jolly nice it was too).
We then went into Whangeria and parked up at the Town Basin, which was a fancy name for the marina. It was quite pleasant and we had a pot of tea between us soaking up the rays and watching the town Christmas Tree being dismantled.
Finally we decided to push on to Hamilton. The roads started quiet but as we approached Auckland it became gridlocked. We were bumper to bumper from North of Auckland, over the harbour bridge to at least 10 miles south of Auckland. It added another hour to our journey. I got even more hot frazzled and bad tempered about the world until we started moving again.
Just before 7pm we arrived in Hamilton. Its a strange place, stuck in a timewarp (deliberate reference to the Richard O'Brien statue on the Main Street commemorating the fact he lives, worked and thought up the Rocky Horror Shop Show here). The buildings are all very 1930's. But when we went out of the evening the bars and restaurants all seemed busy. We had at nice meal in a converted bank called imaginatively 'The Bank". Back in our Hotel room, our room was very warm as it lacked air con.