Published: June 9th 2012June 7th 2012
The sun cleared long enough to get a good shot of this old volcano.
Our family kindly took us up the west coast to New Plymouth, a mere 4-5 hour drive, for an overnight stay in a proper hotel – luxury compared to our rented campervan! The countryside along the east coast is generally flattish, akin to what you might find in many parts of England, so it was a bit of home from home. On the main roads of the North Island there were many more cars on the road copard to the South Island, especially as today turned out to par of a bank holiday weekend.
Stopping on the way up at Wanganui we had a light lunch in a local cafe while observing a procession of old cars passing along the high street, going to some sort of rally. In general I noticed that there are a fair few older cars over here on the road in regular use, which was nice to see. The town itself is actually quite old and had a fair bit of character, older buildings, a nice park (more later) and is definitely worth a visit if in the area. After lunch we continued on north past the Mount
This could be England
This countryside could easily be in England, except it is in the North Island of NZ.
Egmont (Mt.Taranaki) National Park, but due to low mist were unable to see the mountain.
Onwards along the coast to New Plymouth, where we checked in to the Copthorn Hotel prior to exploring the town. Parking meters in the town and in Wnaganui along the way suggest the North Island is a bit less idyllic than the South Island and a bit more hard-nosed towards making money from the populace, just like the UK. Sad. We decided to walk down to the coast before our evening meal. So far in New Zealand we had been very lucky with the weather, but the weather gods decided to remind us that they could be nasty if they wanted, as the rain changed from tiny splatters to the occasional stair-rods during the rest of the day. Just to let you know, we are tough Geordies who treat tropical storms like mere sun-showers and thus we soldiered on with the walk in the rain when it got bad. (Where did that cold/chill of mine later come from, I wonder!?).
At the coast there is a large outcrop of rock, Paritutu, with adjacent volcanic islands called the Sugar Loaf islands.
This could also be England
A seaside shot at New Plymouth. Yes, it can RAIN here!
Right next to Paritutu was a tall industrial chimney, see the photo and I will leave it to the reader to determine whether the industrial chimney enhances or detracts from the view. Sadly we did not get time to walk up it, but apparently it is a simple hike. We walked around 6km north along the tourist coastal path to a footbridge that from a distance looks just nothing short of average, but when arriving at the bridge was please to see it was actually a bridge of significant creative merit, as the superstructure looks as if it takes the form of a breaking wave. Very good and very appropriate since this is a surfing town with at least 2 surfing clubs. It is worth a walk to if you have the time and energy and in our craxy enought not to mind the rain. Back to the hotel for a bath and a meal and bed. Next day we had a short walk to the seafront in the sunshine - what a difference the weather makes.
Heading back towards Wellington, we drove to the entrance of the Mount Egmont (Mt.Taranaki) National Park. What mountain, I asked, it was
Paritutu Rock and Sugarloaf Islands
Not a great photo of New Plymouth, (check out the internet for better pictures) but do you think the chimney enhances the view? Rhetoric question.
still shrouded in cloud. We took the gamble that it might clear if we got closer, so drove the several km into the park, and hey presto, the weather decided to take pity on us after our drubbing the day before, and the mist cleared for a while. What a beautiful mountain, an old snow capped volcano of about 4500 metres with a definite look of Mount Fuji. After attempting to wear out our camera, we headed back down the twisty approach road, only to be met by a head on collision between two cars on one of the sharp bends of the access road. No-one hurt thankfully, but two tow trucks would undoubtedly be needed to clear the mayhem. Take extra care, any would be visitors! You must visit here if you are in the area, and try and choose a clould free day to get distant views of the mountain.
On the road again, we stopped at the same town as we did on the way up, Wanganui. (Wanganui is actually called a city). We had tea and a bun in the park cafe, took a stroll around the lake in the park and then went through
New Plymouth next day
Amazing what a difference the sun makes.
the small free public aviary. This is a must for children of all ages up to 100 who visit the town. The visit further re-enforced my view that this was a nice town with a lot of character. And so - back to our temporary home at Whitby.
There are more photos below