March 7, 2010
Today we headed off, ultimately, south to New Plymouth but the quickest route took us quite a way north before we turned along the coast towards New Plymouth itself.
The drive took us around an hour north almost back as far as Waitomo before we headed towards the west coast and another picturesque drive. We stopped along the way at a small beach and a site called the Three Sisters. The tide was coming in so we had to be quick getting out to the end of the beach, part of the walkway already being knee-deep in water as we waded out towards the two big rocks at the end of the water, the third barely visible as it had previously collapsed. The sand here was very black as a result of all the volcanic activity but was still very fine. Even the cave formations here were really cool and the patterns of the moss growing within them was equally interesting. We ensured we didn’t hang around too long though and got back before the tide came in much further.
We headed on from there and took a stop at another small brewery. This one was called Mike’s Brewery (previously White Cliffs) and they did four of their own beers. We tried all four before settling on a pint of each to enjoy in the lovely garden in the peaceful, summer setting. The four beers were a summer strawberry flavoured one, a lightish lager, a darker ale and a pilsner. All of them were really tasty and I settled on the ale and Elizabeth got a lager. We also bought some takeaways so we could enjoy them at the next hostel.
We arrived at the hostel around 3pm in New Plymouth. It was another YHA but it looked much nicer than the one in Tongariro. The reception was closed when we arrived so we headed into the city centre for a look around and a visit to the information centre. The rest of town seemed fairly dead and there really wasn’t much going on – it was a Sunday afternoon though! The info centre was based at a museum called Puke Ariki and it looked quite interesting so we decided we would come back here tomorrow when we have more time to have a look around.
Back at the hostel we sat and chatted with some of the people staying there – an American guy who had sold all his stuff in Seattle and was now just globe-hopping, an older couple from Tasmania who seemed to have travelled just about everywhere and a couple of German girls who were staying at the hostel and working here cleaning, too. It is so great to chat to so many people as you travel as the diversity is amazing. The guy from Seattle is actually a qualified doctor and came over to NZ on a 2 year working visa – he has just chosen not to use it and to travel around instead! Listening to his stories, it definitely gave Elizabeth and I something to aspire towards when we get a bit older, too!
We checked in and found ourselves in a nice little double room. We’re a bit out of the town centre but that doesn’t bother us – we’re capable of walking once in a while!
Rather than have our leftover curry for dinner, we headed into the city and stopped at a bar called Frederic’s. It is a Monteith’s bar which means not only did it serve the beers we like, we could also use the free beer vouchers we had! We get a free beer with every main meal we order – my main meal was a special which included a pint with it so I actually got two free beers. Having done a fair bit of driving I felt I deserved them!
March 8, 2010
We decided to spend the day around NP today and we started in the local park, which was apparently voted as one of the best in NZ. It is called Pukekura Park and it is spread over a large area with some lovely lakes and views of Mount Taranaki. The park was a nice little diversion and the fernery was interesting, showing some of the local plants and trees.
After a couple of hours walking around, we headed down into the city centre and visited the Puke Ariki museum which covers the history of the local region, Taranaki. The museum was quite interesting, particularly the Maori history of the region.
After a lunch stop (2 for 1 pizzas!), we headed to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery which houses a lot of contemporary art. The stuff here was very weird and didn’t make much sense to me. They had a lot of stuff by an artist called Len Lye who requested that all his art be housed here when he died. The gallery isn’t large enough for all of it so the city is actually building a separate building for his works. His current exhibits in this gallery were a bit beyond my understanding and a bit strange. Quite honestly, the gallery was a bit pointless but thankfully it was free. There was one display called “Moon Bead” which showed a small bead on a wire which is made to vibrate and as the kinetic energy collected in the wire, the bead made lots of various shapes and colours. This was really cool to watch for a few minutes but nothing else caught our imagination and we were in and out in around half an hour.
Back at the hostel in the afternoon we lazed around and chatted to people and just enjoyed being somewhere with friendly people, unlike Tongariro! At the hostel, they make a chocolate cake every night for the guests and it was good to have something cooked for us for a change!
March 9, 2010
This morning Elizabeth and I both woke up with blocked noses and the start of a cold. We were supposed to get up early and head up to Mt Taranaki to do some of the walks around the mountain. We decided to spend a bit of extra time in bed but by about 9 we decided we should get up and out and try and get some fresh air.
We headed to the North Egmont visitor centre where a lot of the walks start and we picked one of the loop walks which was due to take around two hours. After about an hour of climbing through some lovely forest, we came to a point with some lovely views down into the city. We were both struggling with the walk as we couldn’t breathe too well but we carried on, desperate to get some exercise and fresh air. The walk down was much quicker and we finished the walk in under 90 minutes but both feeling tired. We popped into the visitor centre and decided against doing another walk.
Back at the hostel we had lunch and then spent our afternoon lazing around the hostel. Mid-afternoon, I headed into the city and bought a DVD writer so that I could try and copy some of the Rosetta Stone language discs from one of the guys at the hostel. That wasn’t wholly successful but I have all the files and will work on burning it to a disc later – at least now I have a writer which will save me spending $5+ a time burning my pictures to DVD as backups.
The evening involved a lot of lazing around, soup and some yummy bread as well as some more homemade chocolate cake. Despite having fun chatting to people in the hostel I was feeling really lethargic. Elizabeth had gone down for a shower and to lie in bed about 8.30 and about an hour later I gave in and followed suit, desperate for a decent sleep before a long drive to Wellington tomorrow. The bed here is so soft both of us bounce around on it at the slightest movement so sleeping hasn’t been easy to come by and tonight with a stuffed nose won’t be much better. I shouldn’t complain though; apart from the odd dodgy stomach day neither of us has been ill very much at all this trip apart from at the very start going around the UK (hangovers excluded, of course!).