Adventures in Hamilton.

In 2015, I stumbled upon the Balloons Over Waikato event on Facebook ads. I excitedly told T that I wanted to go to that festival as I’ve always wanted to go to one. Few years back, in the Philippines, my mother and I planned going to the hot air balloon festival few hours from our place but for some unknown happenstance, it never happened.


We set a date and contacted a friend from underwater hockey who kindly offered to host us in her nice cozy home, which happened to be close to where the event was held! Perfect! She also invited us to join her and her 3 lovely kids for the Pumpkin Festival the following day which was a fun day.

On the day of the main event, we went around Hamilton City Centre and visited the Hamilton Gardens. We learned from our host that at the city center we could find a statue of Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Show. With further search, I found out that the author of the said musical Richard O’Brien moved to Hamilton in the 1950’s and worked as a barber in the same building where the statue stands… I wonder if this is where he started writing about this musical, and if walks along the riverside gave him inspiration to write. I also found out that he played Riff Raff in the same show.

The Hamilton Gardens is a place with different collections/ garden themes. Each collection tells a story and reflects a history, culture and  meanings of each garden. On one side of the garden’s pavilion, you will find a grand wall mural, which was a collaborative work of artists Derek Kerwood and Megan Godfrey… it is a very charming and impressive piece of work.



That night, we headed to the University of Waikato grounds to see what we were there for, the hot air balloons. The ground was full of family and friends having a good time and enjoying the festival. It was a huge community. We found a good spot to watch the hot air balloons dance with the music and set out our picnic mat. I was so fascinated with the balloons… so T left me taking photos and videos while he get some food from the many stalls around. When he came back, I stopped taking photos and decided to enjoy the moment. Sometimes, while it is nice to capture moments like that to share with family and friends, I find that being there, at the moment , is the best way to experience things.


The following day, we were headed to the Pumpkin Festival. It was more of a kids’ celebration but the kids-at-heart in us enjoyed the day too. I particularly enjoyed watching the rolling of the pumpkins to culminate the event. The kids had a good fun building  the highest tower of broken pumpkin at the end of the hill.


Fast forward… 18 months later. Little did we know that that 2-day trip was our glimpse of the new community where we will be living. All friends are sending their best wishes on our new adventure at the Tron. So I asked why is it called Tron, I didn’t find a definitive answer from Mr. Google but our lovely friend from the Tron itself explained that it was based on the 80’s movie Tron. Apparently, the title came from a radio station monicker in the 90’s to replace the council’s initial slogan “Hamilton, where it’s happening” to “Hamilton, the city of the future” and the name stuck until this day. There are variations of the story but I can settle with this. 🙂

Some people asked why Tron… I even got a comment that the city lacks character relative to its size. Well, fate brought us here and to us there’s no such place as boring… after all we are the one who decide on what we do with our time, not the place. It can be as boring as you would want it or it can be as exciting as you would want it to be. So far, we are enjoying the relatively quieter roads and shops as compared to Auckland and the idea that it is within 1- 2 hour drive to a lot of interesting places in North Island providing more possibilities for weekend adventures.

This week, we look forward to seeing hot air balloon over the town… this time, as residents of the area.


Watch out for this space for more weekend explorers’ blog.