Spending the Day in New Plymouth

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18/01/08
Hello again folks! Well, as I mentioned in the last post, today I spent the day in New Plymouth, as my bus wasn’t leaving for Wanganui until 5pm tonight. As a result, I predicted a fairly boring, lazy day. Well, I wouldn’t say that my day was boring at all. I ended up taking a bit of a road trip with a German couple to see a neat natural feature known as the 3 Sisters. Those of you looking at the picture and subsequent ones that will eventually get posted will note that they are not unlike Hopewell Rocks. You would be correct. They are indeed sandstone formations which arose over a long period of time as a result of erosion and big tides. This is a spot you can only visit during low tide, so we had to time our arrival correctly, which we did. I didn’t bother bringing along the GPS, although I wish I did. I’ll try to put some sort of map together, but no guarantees. Either way, read on for a bit more about my past 24 hours in New Plymouth.

Let’s turn the clock back slightly to last night first, shall we? After my successful climb of Mt. Taranaki, and the fact that I was in no hurry the next morning, I figured I deserved a little R&R right? Well, New Plymouth is currently hosting the Festival of Lights, in which one of the local parks is completely done up with various colored lights in the trees and fountains, and there is free music, so I wanted to head there. I also convinced several other people to join me. Before that, I had to eat though. Thomas, one of the guys who went with me to Taranaki that morning was heading to the grocery store, and I tagged along. I picked up some tasty breakfast supplies, as well as a pizza, and a nice bottle of red wine from the Hawkes Bay region. It was a Cab/Merlot and quite good, but I forget the name. Sorry.

Back at the hostel, I popped my pizza in, and cracked open the wine. I offered it around, and Ulli, a German girl with Albert, took me up, so at least I didn’t have to drink the whole thing alone! They were working on a puzzle as I ate and drank. Once set, we headed off downtown, with visions of beer and lights in our mind. The park was quite fun, and we checked a band out for a while, before heading to a grocery store for some beers. After the show, we had a little fun when we were asked if we’d like to help put some scooters away. Can you imagine? Someone actually handed us scooter keys to drive around, in spite of our beers in hand. Kev, you’d have loved it, we didn’t even have to sneak them away. Too fun.

After that, we wandered back towards the hostel, but not before the four of us popped into an Irish bar for some Kilkenny and Guiness. There was talk of trying to get a spot in the 100 pint club, but we didn’t think we could pull it off in an hour 🙂 Back to the hostel for a nice rest, before getting up very late at 9:30am just in time to pack up and check out for 10am. Then, Ulli, Albert and I piled into their car for the hour or so ride to the Three Sisters. I was pretty glad, as there was no way I would have made it up there in this trip otherwise. The beach walk was a lot of fun, and passed the time away quite nicely. Once back in the car, we only made one more stop to photograph an offshore Natural Gas platform. As it turns out, Taranaki Region is a big supplier of NZ’s energy needs, hence why New Plymouth is known as the “Pulse of the Energy Province”. Glad I learned something!

To further my education, and to kill the last couple hours in town, I ventured off to the local museum, which was free, and learned more about Taranaki and its surrounding areas. There were some very good displays on Maori culture, as well as the development of Taranaki, and the gas exploration history of the region. Very cool free entertainment. I also went back to the waterfront to check in on the rock sculpting contest. Yup, that’s right, sculptors from around the world were working at their craft, where the works will be judged and eventually auctioned off. A lot like the Ice Sculpting in Winterlude, only more permanent! It was a very impressive display, and I’m sure Jonz would have been most impressed. I’ll put some pictures up when I get the ability!

Well, that pretty much sums up my free day in New Plymouth and region. I’m typing this up on the bumpy bus ride back to Wanganui. I only get in at 7:40pm, so I’m pretty sure there won’t be much new to talk about later. Hee hee. I plan to just return to the hostel, and get organized for tomorrow’s ride. Oh yeah, and hopefully post this! To summarize, my choice to make this side trip was completely the right call, and was a nice distraction from biking again. The next 3 days will be full, long biking days, taking me to Wellington, where I’ll spend a few days before finally landing on the South Island. I’m really looking forward to it. Hope you’re all well, and feel free to drop me a message some time, would ya?

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