This was our first trip away from home for 7 months and our first during the new age of the global pandemic. Amazingly this was my first trip to New Plymouth although Geoffrey had visited several times previously during his various tramping trips on Mt Taranaki
I had wanted to see the mountain which required good weather so we made the arrangements last minute when we saw that the forecast was promising. It’s a leisurely 5 hour drive from Auckland which included a relaxing lunch stop at Otorohanga township. We also stopped at Waitara to visit friends. It was great to see renewed activity growth and development in the small town after decades of economic stagnation.
New Plymouth is a great weekend getaway trip with many attractions but it helps significantly if the weather is good. We were blessed with stunning views of the mountain for the 2 days. The major attractions are Pukekura Park – a stunning 52ha botanic park close to the centre of town, the eye-catching Lye Centre and his various artworks, and the well-constructed 12km coastal walkway alongside the Tasman Sea running from the Taranaki Port to Bell Block. It’s a well maintained promenade suitable for walking or cycling. Or you can what Geoffrey did and run it both ways! It’s a varied and interesting route and as it was whitebaiting season we saw a few fisherman were trying their luck on the estuaries.
There’s a good choice of cafes and restaurants in the city although we struggled to find any Chinese places so we ended up eating at the Novotel where we stayed. There are a couple of famous bakeries / pie shops (Andres Pies and Smoko Bakery in particular) but note that they are closed weekends. You must try Smoko’s Garlic Prawn pie!!)
On the return trip back home we stopped at Mokau at the Whitebait Inn famous for its whitebait fritters and at Te Kuiti to see the new Sir Colin Meads bronze statue situated in front of the renovated train station. The train station also houses an excellent café with tables on the veranda beside the tracks. The steamed mussels there are highly recommended.
It was a fast trip back home until we struck peak-hour traffic on the Auckland southern motorway and the immediate reminder of the disadvantages of living in the big city. We were already missing the clean ocean airs, the uncongested roads, the lower prices, the easy access to the fantastic outdoors, and the majestic Mt Taranaki which one will never ever tire looking at.
If you would like more information about this destination please do not hesitate to contact me.