After stopping for a few waterfalls, we continued on to the famous Hamilton Gardens. We were pleasantly surprised at the free parking and free entry to the gardens. Once inside we found a garden map and started exploring. As with every day thus far on the North Island, there were several periods of intermittent rain but we stuck it out and were able to see all the sections.
Our favorites were the Tropical and Renaissance gardens; the rose garden was rather grand too.
Before we left town we stopped at Good George for a late lunch. The restaurant was surprisingly busy given the time of day, with quite a few large groups taking up most of the tables, but we managed to get a small table for two on the side near a supply closet. I ordered a tart granny smith cider while Leandra tried the stout which was decent, but too light. We also ordered the sliders- they were tiny! Beef and chicken were 2/3 bun, though flavor was good. Pork was best for size and flavor.
We would definitely recommend Hamilton Gardens if you are in the area. It makes a good day-trip from Auckland (about three hours there and back), or on your way to Rotarua.