A Sunny Day in Taranaki

After over a week of cloudy and rainy weather in New Plymouth, we woke up to beautiful bright blue skies and golden sunshine on our last morning there. We had breakfast and packed our bags. Paid our bill and said goodbye. Got into the car and headed out of town. The trip to our next destination, the city of Hamilton, was supposed to be a 3.5 hour drive without stops.

But we DID take a small 2-hour detour right off the bat: left the main road and drove the 15km winding road up to the car park at the Egmont National Park, the entrance for people interested in hiking up Mount Taranaki. Great views on such a clear day. We could see some of the paths going up the mountain, around the mountain, and off to various lookout points. From up there we could see the ocean on three directions. We could see the sprawling valley stretching out to the east. Way off in the distance, we could even see the Tongariro mountains — where we had hiked together with the Funks about 2 months ago.

I took a short ‘tramp’ through some very dense bush, following a muddy pathway, out to one of the lookout points. With all the rain we’ve had in the past week, the hiking paths were very muddy, not at all ideal on this day. But I managed to get some more photos of the valley below before heading back to the car park.

Sue and I were just taking a walk out to another lookout when a helicopter came right over our heads and landed down below us somewhere on the road we’d come up on. I really wanted to know what was going on. So we got into the car and headed back down the hill. As I was winding our way down I could hear the chopper blades nearby. Finally I stopped the car and ran across the road into a clearing — and there it was. No emergency, no rescue deal; just some workers getting shuttled in to where the park trucks were parked. Sue was laughing at me, suggesting that maybe like my nephew Matt, I should become a ‘storm-chaser’. More like an ‘ambulance-chaser’.

So much for today’s “excitement”. We continued our drive up to Hamilton. By now it was high time for lunch so we stopped in Waitara at a little cafe. We followed the coast for half the day, then turned inland, winding our way through some very beautiful country. Lots of agriculture, cattle and sheep, as we followed the Awakino River.

One more stop, this one for some ENORMOUS ‘single-scoop’ hokey-pokey flavoured ice cream cones near Waikato. We had emailed our hosts in Hamilton to expect us at around four. We arrived at our very lovely studio AirBnB in a brand new suburban residential development at around 4:30. Our host, a heart-and-stroke doctor, met us on the driveway and showed us the suite. Very nice. He pointed out the Canadian and New Zealand flags flying from the flag pole. And then, on the window beside our entrance, a poster greeting us with another Canadian flag, and under that, a big photo of the Steinbach windmill. Wow, this host goes all out to make us feel welcome!

Instead of going out for dinner, Sue was so excited about the great well-stocked kitchen, we had supper in our place. We read our books (a small ‘library’ of books in the bedroom here, so I picked one of those) and watched our laundry drying on the drying racks as the sun set.