Tues 2nd Feb
As we left our hotel in Wellington the receptionist asked where we were off to next. When we said heading for New Plymouth, he was very tactful in saying there is nothing there.We did know that but it's just an area we haven't explored.On the way is a place called Whanganui and it turns out to be the main centre for the area before you enter the Taranaki national park so it's got everything you could possibly need including an opera house! Looks really nice so we stay a night.It's beautifully kept with hanging baskets along the streets and so many shops. Anyway its February now so we celebrate by having a pint , or 1/2 in my case , in the Rutland arms. It tasted so good but I have decided I did feel better not drinking! Accomodation has no cooking so its pizza and salad which is just what we need. Next morning Steve decides he needs more t shirts so we head back up to main street to visit the museum and then do a bit of shopping. Once again the museum doesn't disappoint showing displays of the old shops etc. They know how to do things over here. Having finally got everything we need we head off to New Plymouth. The obvious road goes right round the coast and is the one we start off on. I'm driving so its a nice easy drive very up and down but loads of passing places. The most noticable difference is the black sand just like in Tenerife, but then we are in a volcanic area. We visit a couple of bays enroute not as picturesque as we are used to but still interesting and all being used by the locals to cool off.Steve takes over the driving so he decides to take the mountain road! Our sat nav gets very confused so our mountain adventures don't last long and we are back on coast road.The weather here continues to be hot. Arrive in New plymouth and head for a motel "Egmont hotel" and the owners are as usual very nice and helpful. As we are close to the sea it has to be a fish & chip supper on the beach so we ask the best place to get them from. She gives us 2 options but directions to the 2nd one are a big vague anyway we stop to ask someone and they point us in the right direction. Anyway it doesn't look like the sort of place or area she described so we head back to her 1st suggestion. Unfortunately sometime during the day some very kind soul has removed part of the roof rack of the car but we only notice it when we get to the 2nd chip shop so where it happened is a mystery although we had been comparing car sizes in the hotel car park so would think we would have noticed then so Steve suspects it was at the 1st chip shop as there were some lads hanging around. Anyway fish and chips were lovely and view of New Plymouth port made it wonderful. We have had better locations but just being by the sea is lovely.
Thurs 4th Feb
Have decided to stay another night and take on some of the volcano that overlooks us after all that was a reason for coming here so we head up to North Egmont where there is a cafe and info site and the start of many tracks. Overnight we had a very short sharp rain storm so this morning it is quite overcast so the mountain is covered in cloud and not very inviting
But we decide to walk anyway and turn back if heavens open. Choose the Veronica loop walk supposed to take about 2hrs. The first 25 minutes is just straight up a load of steps which was a bit of a shock but we rose very quickly and eventually we got to a point where we were in the clouds but the trees were holding them up so we could see underneath them. The walk was lovely, no real good views as it was cloudy but also plants were quite high. The track was quite rough once the steps had been mastered so you had to keep watching your footing. At one point we were walking along a ridge which was heavily disguised with large plants either side so if you slipped it was a long way down unless you got caught on plants. Heading back into centre of town we decide to see what else New Plymouth has to offer. They have a great walkway along the seafront which has been constructed to incorporate sea defenses but goes on for a very long way and its done very well and we eventually come to the centre where a sculpture is a wand which blows in the wind. Initially it doesn't sound or look very impressive but it is different.New plymouth evidently can also boast the longest high st in NZ!
Friday 5th Feb
The part for roof rack is supposed to be at Hyundai this am so we head to garage needless to say not straight forward so we have to go away for few hours and then come back. This seemed like a pain but actually it meant we found a lovely park/botanical gardens to while away the time, very pleasant. Head back to garage and man starts waffling on about part not arriving when it was quite obvious he hadn't ordered it in the first place!!!!
Plan was to head off back inland and drive the "Forgotten world highway" which only has 1 place to stay along the route and is supposed to be very winding roads. The starting point is from a place called Stratford which has some links to uk town of same name and Shakespeare.The centre piece of the town is a clock which plays Romeo and Juliet about 3 times a day and figures appear from different windows. Very entertaining for a few minutes but obviously has to be viewed.