Where were we… the last chronicled blog series I was working through involved the parents, Evan, Joel and me. Ah, yes…
The Great Divide
After having a few days together in Auckland, Joel and Evan went off to do some adventuring on their own. They did some really cool hikes, met up with our Tauranga crew, explored White Island and eventually made their way to Waitomo where they did a full-day caving epic, before reuniting with us.
While the boys were being boys, I took the parents up to the Bay of Islands to do some serious relaxing. After Charles’ spill particularly, we were all game for a little slower pace to catch our breath.
The parents and I were spoiled with a really lovely house up on the hill in Opua that boasted some killer views as well as both basic amenities and some added extras – like kettle bells (which were fun to use, but my dad insisted he wasn’t allowed to use them without his trainer present *eye roll*), a hot tub, and a great barbecue.
When we were around our holiday home, we spent lotsa time lounging, reading and chatting together. We made a few great meals, we watched several episodes of ‘This is Us’ (making a couple reluctant fans) and the dads tried not to dress the same (which they failed to do most days).
When away from the house, we found lots of fun and fabulous things to do.
One of our first evenings in the area, we headed to Paihia (just up the road about 10 mins from our place) to grab some supper. We wound up at Alfresco’s, a quiet little spot right across from the water. We were quite pleased with our meals there and had to take lots of pictures of the impressive presentation.
Having been thoroughly plumped, we wandered along the beach for a little while after dinner. It was fun to see the moms collecting different beach treasures as we strolled, and neat to have some memories of the first time I was in this area all those years ago. The little kayak rental shack pictured below is where Allison and I rented kayaks when visiting with her sister, brother in law and a few friends.
Another day of touring landed us in Russell. We took a short passenger ferry ride over to this quaint town and the first capital of New Zealand. We wandered the historic streets with a literal boat-load of other tourists (folks who had arrived via cruise ship that morning), taking in all the sunshine, hand-painted signs, affogatos and charm that we could handle.
We headed to KeriKeri one afternoon for some more historic buildings (one notable structure was a still-operational store house built in 1836), as well as a stop over at Rainbow Falls and some great food (indulging in lunch at the Wharepuke Restaurant and stopping at a chocolate factory on our way back to Opua).
We all had such a wonderful time up North, in fact… I wouldn’t mind a quick, magical transportation over that way about now (maybe that’s the -30 degree weather talkin’). After a few shorts days, we were back on the road… headed North to meet up with the guys.
We had a stop-over in Hamilton, where we didn’t do much more than walk a little and eat before resting up for yet another day of driving.
The next morning, we continued on towards Waitomo to meet the guys – becoming a group of 7 yet again. We had a sweet reunion over an early lunch at Huhu to squeezed in some nourishment before the Lindoff’s went to tour the glow worm caves and we toured some stores.
Joel got up to some monkey business at a souvenir shop by starting a mannequin trend, and it resulted in Charles chuckles for hours to come… like, he thought of it at supper and got the giggles all over again 🙂
After our Waitomo pit stop, we were ready for Taranaki! Just like every other time we’ve been in the area, we stopped to admire the first accessible black sand beach. When Allison and I stopped, the weather was great and the other 2 times it was exceptionally windy with a very angry ocean. Beautiful on all 3 occasions!
Carrying on, we accidentally timed our trip to Three Sisters and Elephant Rock perfectly. As we drove by the exit, we realized it was low tide and an excellent time to explore the rocks. The weather was wild and windy, but this was one of my favourite memories of our time together. The black sand was in full glory, the weather shifted to a sudden downpour and we had to run for shelter to the caves. Too fun.
Once we’d explored the beach and been properly wind-chilled we headed on towards New Plymouth. Riding on reviews, we landed at Social Kitchen for supper and were not disappointed! The restaurant had a fairly industrial, yet welcoming feel and featured an extensive menu of family-style meals. We took advantage of their Sunday evening special with a chef’s choice of meat and sides, we enjoyed rotisserie chicken, fries, roasted root veggies and asparagus.
Once we had warmed up and filled up, we went to check out our accommodations. Stopping to grab some essentials at our fav, PaknSave, we indulged in the Southern Hemisphere original, pavlova, that evening, too.
We stayed in a quirky little house with an incredible view. Despite the pink-carpeted bathroom with steps leading up to the tub and the funny little additional accessible only through the garage… it provided all we needed to recharge.
New Plymouth New Discoveries
Joel and I were reminded of how much we love the Taranaki region. We revisited several of the spots we appreciated on our last visit, and added some fun activities, as well.
Our first full day in the area started with the Len Lye Centre, where there were a couple new exhibits for Joel and I to admire. We then grabbed a coffee at Ozone before enjoying lunch at Federal Store – all good things.
After lunch, several of our crew went biking along the Coastal Walkway. Joel and I had walked the path a little bit the last time we had visited, but biking was far too lovely. We started off in downtown and went all the way to the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge (about 10 kms).
That evening our lovely Canadian friends were beyond gracious to invite our full tour to their place for dinner.
Yet another trip highlight, we loved having such quality time with these pals before heading back to Canada. We enjoyed curry, followed by fresh strawberries on ice cream with tea. Ashley and Jonathan had invited us into their NZ lives with open arms both times we were in Taranaki, and we are so blessed to know such great people!
Before heading to Wellington, we spent our morning wandering around Pukekura Park – yet another new experience in the area. We had fun checking out the ponds, waterfalls, fountains, water wheel, chatting up some locals and playing at the park.
Fuelled by fresh air and Indian food we went from the West coast to the South – next stop, Wellington!