Last weekend we were able to head toward Taranaki to have a visit with friends from home who we’ve yet to see, and to have a little down time. It was bliss… rainy, stormy bliss.
We rented a car for just over a week, and planned to use it for a getaway before Sarah arrived and then she and I would use it for a few days after. We organized ourselves so Sarah would meet us in Hamilton as we would be passing through en route to home and saving us about 3 hours by avoiding Auckland on our way back to Papamoa.
Friday morning came and we loaded up our new little Nissan with all we’d need for a few days and drove west.
The beginning of weekend bliss was donuts from Mamas Donuts in Hamilton. I’d read about their donuts and how their shop is only open from Thursday- Saturday, so we were excited to hit the window just right **drool**.
The options made it necessary for us to pick a few, and we just made our way through them across the weekend. Both Joel and I loved their cookies and cream (top right corner), but the custard in the chocolate dipped one was pretty bang on as well (bottom right). Overall we considered that pitstop a success.
We have been constantly wowed by New Zealand’s vast topography as we continue to see new land. Our trek to New Plymouth was no different. Despite the weather, we were impressed with the changing scenary over and over again. Including an unexpected detour through a Hamilton suburb that seemed centred around the mormon temple set high on a hilltop.
One of the highlights Joel noted about our drive was the sudden view of the ocean after having wound our way up and down the highway for several hours. From one curve to the next the land changed drastically! The wind picked up to toss our little car around a bit and brought with it a clearing where we could see the very angry ocean. Churning up silt and foam and crashing against a magnificent black sand beach.
We got out to take in the sight and almost immediately Joel’s hat was tossed off causing us to scramble after it. We walked long enough to snap a couple pictures before having to run back to shelter as heavy raindrops started to fall.
New Plymouth, New Love
Joel and I both really loved this area, but Joel especially felt quite quickly connected to this West coast region.
We had planned to spend a good amount of time outside- there’s lots to see outdoors, loads of hikes and walks to do in the surrounding area as well as a lovely 10km coastal walkway that allows you to bike, jog or stroll alongside black sand beaches, over iconic bridges, past the CBD and through green pastures- pretty cool… but, we got a Taranaki winter weekend.
All three days we were in the area it stormed. There were strong winds, buckets of rain and thunder that made us wonder if we were experiencing our first NZ earthquake. Thankfully with the storm came opportunity to visit, cozy by the fire, take bubble baths and just slow down- which was awesome.
On Friday, we made a PaknSave run to make some great meals at our Airbnb. As we left the store, to be sure we were still able to be sweet to one another, we regulated our blood sugar at a diner near by. They had giant burgers, curly fries, wild milkshakes and an unexpected touch of home!
That evening we got to go hang out with Ashley and met their new (cutest ever) puppy, Fitzroy. It was great to see a familiar face way over here on the other side of home, and we thoroughly enjoyed a catch-up along with time to talk through the growing pains of moving so far away.
Both Joel and I were truly impressed and happy to see Ashley and Jonathan’s connectedness to their new community. Lovely, lovely.
The theme of our weekend was relaxation.
My version of this included having bubble baths (which was fabulously luxurious as our house is bathtubless), eating candy, drinking coffee and watching as much Friday Night Lights on Netflix as my little eyeballs could handle.
Joel was able to get an awe-inspiring, peach-pop-driven amount of work done. I am continually impressed by his drive and am so proud of him for taking our downtime and finding such grand productivity.
This might not sound very relaxing to some, but Joel was so happy to have a quiet space to just get some things done and much of his work was just done for himself and his own businesses- which was great.
Note: that giant wooden crate just behind Joel was full of firewood when we arrived and we used it all. It was magical.
Our Airbnb was really cool. Renovated, but decorated to accentuate the original charm and character of the home. Even though we weren’t able to see the mountain from the garden as you can on clear days, we liked to look out and see the rooftops of houses in the neighbourhood, and felt comfortable there to hunker down, make hearty meals and just be still.
(this is one of Joel’s pictures from the weekend, he took several really amazing shots, so check out his Instagram if you haven’t already) This is Joel being a total all-star as he cleaned up the entire kitchen for us.
Makin’ the Best of the Weather
Saturday started with brunch out at the Federal Store with Ashley and Jonathan. They recommended the spot, and we loved it. Great coffee, scrumptious food and funky atmosphere.
Joel had a great hash with eggs over hard (hurray- this was a first since arriving in NZ) and I had pulled pork eggs benedict- both were delicious!
We took their thoughtful recommendations for the afternoon and ventured out to a couple (mostly indoor) activities.
Len Lye was this New Zealand artist who worked with some interesting media- known for kinetic sculpture and experimental film. We got to see some of his pieces at the Len Lye Museum and checked out their new cameraless photography exhibit (which my brother, Jordon would have appreciated).
We were happy to warm up a bit with an afternoon coffee break. We swung by the most hipster cafe we’ve been to- and loved it. Great drinks amongst a really cool interior- full of a modern-antique mix and maps (I love me some maps).
Len Lye is also the artist behind a massive wind wand structure that’s on the waterfront just off the CBD, there was enough of a break in the weather for us to check it out. We got our first taste of the coastal walkway, as well (even though we were nearly blown off the path by gail-force winds).
Sunday morning came and we were able to get out a little more- despite the massive overnight storm that shook the house and woke both Joel and I in the middle of the night. There was a flash of lighting was so bright Joel felt he should almost go check to be sure the house hadn’t been set ablaze and our friends had told us the thunder made them wonder if there was an earthquake!
An easy, quite morning with a glorious breakfast was the cure for our restless sleep, and we spent part of the afternoon with homemade cookies and tea visiting once more with Ashley and Jonathan. We were treated so sweetly and loved our time catching up with fellow Calgarians 🙂
Once we left our tea, we headed once again for the coastal walkway. Since the path is 10km long there’s lot of different places to start your trek, so we drove over to the Te Rewa Rewa bridge which looks like a whale skeleton with bright white ribs stretching into the sky from the bridge deck. On clear days the ribs curve around looking like a wave that perfectly frames Mount Taranaki with it’s picturesque snow cap and perfectly pointed peak. We just saw the bridge and a lot of clouds- still pretty impressive!
Home Again, Home Again
Monday we were ready to head back to Papamoa. On our way we had to time ourselves to get into Hamilton as Sarah’s bus arrived, and we had a little time to kill.
We left our Airbnb (exactly on time- the house keeper was coming in as we were heading out the door), and stopped for a coffee and macarons before hitting the road again.
We had a yogurt break and chanced our timing for New Zealand’s version of the Three Sisters- which are 3 oceanic rock formations just North of New Plymouth and can only be visited at low tide. We happened to be driving by at the perfect time, so we got to check ’em out.
(That’s me, but I fell on some slippery rocks and shut the autofocus off on our camera, haha… so it’s a bit blurry!) Here I am all muddy after my wipeout! Lots of sea caves and trash that’s washed up over time. We kinda liked it there… as you could have guessed by the number of photos shared! There are the 3 sisters on the left It looked like we could maybe go through the rock, so we tried it! And we made it all the way through to see the sisters from the other side.
Well, we had an extra rainy time, but it was fabulous. Lots to do and see in Taranaki, we’ll be back!
We picked Sarah up with exquisite timing and were on our way back to our area for plenty o’ adventure… but that’s for another post.