Biggest perk of being a teacher in NZ: The 4 scheduled school breaks throughout the year that allow you to travel. We have really tried to take advantage of these school breaks and use them to see new parts of the country that we havn’t seen yet. It is satisfying to say that we have been able to check off a good amount of destinations on our list. One corner of the North Island that we hadn’t spent a lot of time in, however, was the south western corner, where sits the nobel and esteemed Mt. Taranaki. Brendon had climbed Mt. Taranaki with his friend Drew last November, but I had yet to visit the area, so we decided to head down to the coastal city of New Plymouth, which sits just a wee ways from Taranaki’s base.
About a month before our trip, we had mentioned to our new friends, Christina and Jesse (who have recently moved to Canada), that we would be travelling down to the area. Christina informed us that her parents lived there, and recommended that we stay with them. We were all too thrilled with this possibility, and even more thrilled when contact was made and plans confirmed.
Our hosts for the weekend, Wayne and Gill, were some of the most kind and generous people we have ever met. As complete strangers, they welcomed us into their beautiful home and gave us a weekend in New Plymouth much greater than we ever could have expected.
We spent the next four days relaxing in the inviting surrounds of New Plymouth. A small coastal city located on Surf Highway 45, New Plymouth has pretty much everything one could need or possibly ever want. There are some neat artistic aspects to the city, including an award-winning bridge designed to resemble the ribcage of a whale.
The bridge is perfectly positioned (almost everything in NP is) to catch a view of Mt. Taranaki right through the middle. We took a picture- as you do, when you’re a tourist in NP.
The Coastal Walkway is one of the huge assets of New Plymouth. Running for 11 kilometers, the Coastal Walkway is an extensive sea-edge promenade which winds around New Plymouth’s waterfront. From the young to the wise, everyone seems to make great use of this gorgeous and highly scenic pathway.
Along the Walkway sits one of New Plymouth’s unmissable features, the Wind Wand. Bending slightly in the direction of the wind current, the Wind Wand serves both a practical function as well as an artistic purpose.
While in New Plymouth, we were able to catch some of the action of the TSB Bank NZ Surf Festival. During our bike along the Coastal Walkway, we stopped by Fitzroy Beach to watch some of the world’s best in women’s surfing take on the waves of the Tasman Sea.
With Mt. Taranaki standing so galantly in the distance, we surely couldn’t visit the region without climbing at least part way up this stately rock. Wayne and Gill were kind enough to take us on a guided hike up to one of the many huts that is perched upon the mountain. Moving at a brisk pace, (without much time to stop for photos), we finished the presumably 3 hour hike in just under 2 hours.
Our last full day in NP held a climb up Paritutu, a notable rock which, along with the Sugarloaf Islands, is part of the remnants of a volcano that was active over 2 million years ago. Though it didn’t take long to climb, the incline becomes quite steep at the top, and the use of a chain is required (or highly useful) to reach the summit. After taking in the views from atop Paritutu, we ventured downwards to explore the beaches below.
A quick jaunt down the sand dune will have you walking in amongst the Sugarloaf Islands. It was quite a nice spot down there, and place I probably wished we were able to spend more time.
Just south of New Plymouth, near the surf town of Oakura on Surf Highway 45, there lies the remains of a steamer which was wrecked on the 5th of January, 1903, while on a journey up NZ’s West Coast. What remains is not much, but we went to visit the Wreck of the Gairloch one gorgeous afternoon with our hosts, and enjoyed a lovely stroll along the sun-kissed beach.
Brendon was lucky enough to go for a scenic flight over New Plymouth with Wayne, a hobby pilot who dabbles in aeronautical engineering. I sent the camera with Brendon and instructed that he capture what was sure to be a very cool experience. After running through all the mandatory the checks, as you do when you fly a plane, Wayne and Brendon were soon in the air, soaring over the glowing Taranaki region.
Wayne was an excellent pilot, and Brendon said he felt extremely confident in his flying abilities. Although Wayne is certified to do air acrobatics, he refrained from performing too many tricks, but did display an agile control over the aircraft. A cool and unexpected opportunity, indeed!
Overall impressions of New Plymouth are that it is a beautiful, family-oriented community with pretty much everything you could ask for. A variety of awesome beaches, Mt. Taranaki, that gorgeous Coastal Walkway, some cute local design boutiques, a local roastery (Ozone Coffee), and with a small enough size but all the amenities of a larger city… our question is, why would you NOT want to live in New Plymouth? If we didn’t have plans to return to Canada, we might very well up-and-move there.
We were truly touched by the generosity and kindness of our lovely hosts, and have a feeling that this certainly won’t be the last we see of our new friends in New Plymouth.
Taranaki, you were very good to us!! We will always come back…