A weekend in Kirikiriroa / Hamilton

Last month we ended up staying in Kirikiriroa. It’s been a while since I’ve been this city so when Max had to be here, I ended up tagging along. The weather was nice and sunny and I had a great time exploring. We checked out the Hamilton Gardens, had an amazing dinner out and then I walked around town and even did a spot of opshopping. 🙂

Hamilton Gardens

I think the best and coolest part of Kirikiriroa (te reo Māori name for Hamilton and I like this name more tbh) is the Hamilton Gardens. It’s free to the public and it’s such a gem. We had a spontaneous day trip here back in 2020 but I’ve been wanting to come back because since then, new themed gardens have opened up. I’ve been wanting to check out the Ancient Egyptian garden.

This one was the newest garden to open and it’s pretty cool. It was busy though so it’s hard to take photos without other people being in your shot. I didn’t mind though, it was such a nice sunny afternoon and everyone was enjoying the gardens too.

I didn’t take heaps of photos but we did check out all the other gardens, even the ones we’ve been to before. It’s nice and relaxing to walk around and be surrounded by plants/nature.

My favourite themed garden is still the Italian Renaissance garden though. It’s probably one of the biggest ones and it’s so beautiful there. It does make you feel like you’ve transported to Italy.

If you’re passing by Kirikiriroa and have time, I highly recommend checking the gardens out. I wish we had something like this in Auckland. It’s a great public space. If you live in Auckland, at least it’s only an hour and 30mins drive away and it’s well worth doing a day trip here.

After checking out the gardens, we headed back to our hotel. We stayed at Novotel which is right in town, so a great central location. We just relaxed in the hotel until we had to go for dinner.

Mr Pickles Bar & Eatery

We were both so excited for dinner because this place has been highly recommended. It was also only a few minutes away from our hotel.

Mr Pickles is located at the end of Riverbank Lane. I think they’re open from lunch time. I’m glad Max booked as it was quite busy. We ordered cocktails but we were most excited about the food.

We ordered way too much food as per usual but we couldn’t resist! Their menu is great.

In the end we got:

  • Braised beef croquettes
  • Miso glazed eggplant
  • Pan-fried market fish (we wanted to order the raw market fish but Max only said fish so this arrived. Our fault, not theirs)
  • Korean sweet n’ sour pork belly
  • Truffle potato mille-feuille

There were only 2 of us and we tried to eat everything.

Everything we ordered tasted delicious but if I had to pick the best dishes, they would have to be the Miso glazed eggplant and the Truffle potato mille-feuille! The miso glazed eggplant was so damn good. If you love truffle like me, you’d love the potato mille-feuille too. The truffle emulsion on top had so much flavour.

I know we already over-ordered but we couldn’t leave this place without trying their desserts. We were full but we couldn’t decide on one so we ordered both the Tiramisu and the matcha panna cotta to share. We had no regrets because both were delicious. The tiramisu was perfection and the panna cotta was also yum. If we had to nitpick, the tapioca could’ve been cooked a bit more but the whole dessert was still pretty good. The panna cotta was so jiggly, it was satisfying to watch.

Overall, the food was amazing and the service was also excellent. Our server was attentive and lovely. We had such an enjoyable dining experience and left so full and satisfied. We highly recommend! I’d love to come back to try more of their dishes.

The next day, I had the whole day to myself to explore town. Max had work so I planned on grabbing a coffee at a cafe and then exploring town until he finished.

I ended up going to The River Kitchen which was a short walk from the hotel. As it was a Sunday and also a long weekend, some cafes were closed (sadly I couldn’t check out Cream Eatery which was top of my list ). The River Kitchen had Biscoff scones so I also had to try it. It was delicious and just what I needed to start my day.

After the cafe, I walked towards Grey Street. It took around 10mins and I wanted to go there to check Lovegrove Lane, the opshops and also Duck Island.

Sadly the shops on Lovegrove lane were closed but they’re pretty cool. We checked them out back in 2018 in this blog post. I then went to Recycle Boutique to do a spot of secondhand shopping and I managed to score a Ruby Mirella longsleeve top and a Standard Issue 100% cashmere cardigan for 50% off so I paid around $111 for both of them! They were such bargain finds! The Standard Issue cardigan retails for almost $700!

After Recycle Boutique, I had to get gelato from the home of Duck Island and it was a great treat on my way back to the centre of town.

It was quite a hot day so I went into the Waikato Museum on my way back. It was nice and airconditioned and also a nice break from the sun. I like checking out museums and art galleries when I’m exploring places so I’m glad I went in. Right next to it is the ArtsPost galleries too so I also went in there.

I then stopped by Riverbank Lane for Browsers bookshop. It’s in the same alley as Mr Pickles.

It’s a secondhand book store and they had an amazing selection. I didn’t buy any books but I enjoyed going inside and checking out the store. They have the biggest book shelf I’ve ever seen in my life! It’s a cool space so if you love books and reading like me, definitely check it out.

Afterwards, I still had some time to kill so I did end up going to the mall Centre Place. I checked out a few boutique shops but I ended up getting a pedicure at one of the nail salons. It was a great idea as my feet were sore from all the walking and it was nice to get a massage. Then I had a late lunch at a small Japanese restaurant.

On my way back to the hotel, I decided to walk along the River Path. It was quite nice to walk by the water.

So that was my weekend in Kirikiriroa. I had a great time and it was a nice mix of nature, food and exploring town which I haven’t really done before. Overall, the Hamilton Gardens and Mr Pickles alone are worth going back for!

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