With a full two weeks in Aotearoa over the festive period, this correspondent took the opportunity to go on a short North Island road trip with the Mrs – “a holiday within a holiday” to use the popular cliché.
From Wellington, the first stop was the annual New Year’s Tauherenikau races. This is about 1.5 hours north of Wellington, close to the wine country of Martinborough.
The Tauherenikau races is like stepping back in time. Being in a regional area, there’s nothing fancy or modern about this place. There’s no gates to buy tickets from, instead, you buy your tickets from the attendants who stop your car and get you to wind down your window to exchange cash for tickets (as you try to manoeuvre the long grass).
The booths to place your bets, toilet facilities, eateries, and other parts of the race course haven’t been upgraded since the place opened I reckon. I hope this never gets upgraded to be a fancy place – walking around in shorts, t-shirts and jandals was brilliant!
This is a real down to earth regional NZ day out. The jumping castles and kids train rides ensure this is a great family day out. Leave your high heels, fancy hats and suits at home for these races, this is Kiwi bro styles!
The next morning we set out for a six hour drive from Martinborough to The Tron. Haven’t heard of the Tron before? It’s the nick name for Hamilton. I’ll get to the reason why its call the Tron shortly.
Circa 20 years ago I went to Massey University in the small town of Palmerston North. Massey is only a 45 minute drive from the Tui brewery in Mangatainoka. Tui is the drop of choice for most locals, and of course as a student I took the opportunity to go on a brewery tour. As you can imagine, the memories came flooding back as the road trip drove past the Tui brewery. The mrs gave me strange looks as I reminisced (and stopped the car to take these pictures).
Anyway, back to more modern times and the subject of Hamilton’s nickname. A Hamilton radio DJ once famously proclaimed that Hamilton is the City of the Future, hence the name The Tron after the movie.
Hamilton is a city in the Waikato region and is 130km south of Auckland. It has an inglorious reputation of being boring. It’s often picked on, teased and ridiculed as not offering anything. However, I’m sure the people of Hamilton don’t give a toss as they hold the Super Rugby title after the Waikato Chiefs won their maiden title in 2012. SBW resided here in 2012.
So why has this correspondent bought mrs kiwisinoz to this place? Well, my brother lives here. During our visit, we saw for ourselves that The Tron does in fact have much to offer. One is the great weather, one of the others is the cluster of bars in the city centre. There is other stuff, but this is beer blog so I’ll keep it simple.
We decided to lunch at one of these bars called House on Hood. I reckon we chose the pick of the bunch. My bro informs us that it’s often the venue for after work drinks and is well known in the Waikato for its range of craft beers – perfect!
Hats off to House on Hood, it’s got something for everyone. One section has a bohemian theme, there’s a great range of craft beer, and the outdoor area caters for a band and has plenty of tables for al fresco dining. Our lunch hit the spot perfectly – the fantastic friendly service made the food taste even better.
The drop of choice on this occasion was an Invercargill Pitch Black by Invercargill Brewery – a beer from the giggle! (Invercargill is better known to NZers as “the giggle”). Apart from Speights, this correspondent had not previously tasted anything else from NZ’s deep south.
Watching it being poured from the tap, this stout appeared much like a Guinness. It has a very strong chocolate and coffee like taste. Surprisingly as I got towards the end of the glass, I wanted more…..normally these types of beers are more suited to accompanying food, however I reckon I could put a few of these down in a session.
But the road trip had to continue……so, after “internalising a very complicated situation in my head” I had no choice but to cool my heels – (didn’t want to try and grab any “ghost chups”). See the YouTube clip for more insight.
But I will be back to visit my little bro in The Tron so we can go back to the House on Hood and try their latest in NZ craft beer.
Not sure if the bro-in-law gets to the Tron much anymore. Might stitch a visit in with him to the Rugby if the time is right.