19th- 20th September
We really wanted to get the chance to visit the Blencowe’s in New Plymouth. Bryan was an old family friend of my Mums from the Brackley days. He had also worked with my Dad at Alcan but had moved out to New Zealand when given the opportunity to work there. Then he had settled in the country when he met and fell in love with a Kiwi, Sue.
So it was on a grey, rainy day we escaped Wellington to take the 7 hour bus ride to New Plymouth, Taranaki.
Bryan cheerfully greeted us off the bus and we cheerfully coughed back (the coughs were really sticking with us). He then drove us to his amazing house just outside the town centre. Five acres surrounded the house and much to Tori’s happiness, Gypsy the horse stood grazing in one of the fields. We relaxed with the family, including Sue’s lovely mum and talked about the old days, well me remembering tales of them.
Then a quick watch of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (which was filmed in Cathedral Cove and would inspire us to make a trip to the Coromandel Peninsula). Then bed.
Due to our bus timetable back to Auckland we didn’t have long in New Plymouth, so it was up early the next morning for Bryan to take us on a tiki taki tour of the area.
First up was an attempt to see the infamous Mt Egmont or Mt Taranaki. We were lucky enough to be driven up to the information centre, rather than the walk which Sue had done that morning. As we gradually climbed it became more apparent just how much it had snowed the night before and that, it was in fact, still snowing. Pulling into the car park required some skill on Bryan’s part as the snow was quite thick and beginning to freeze. We slipped and slid our way into the centre in order to see some images of what Egmont really looked like from afar.
The best way to describe the mountain is that it looks like Mount Fuji, so much so that it was used as the mountain in the Last of the Samauri, starting T Cruise, which was also filmed in the area (they are very proud of this). We abandoned looking at the mountain and headed back into the car for Lake Mangamahoe.
This would have been a perfect spot for a picnic in the summer but as the rain started to lash down we opted for a quick drive around and then headed for Paritutu.
This was a large stone on the coastline over looking the mines. New Plymouth is predominately a oil,gas and petrochemical mining town. It is what brought Bryan to New Plymouth.
After a quick team debrief we decided that we would climb up as far as we were comfortable. The fact that we were having to shout over the wind proves how ‘brave’ we were being. Off we went. We stopped near the top for a few pictures. Up and down the coast are examples of both working and relics of mines. It was agreed that going any further was futile, anyway it was time for lunch.
Bryan took is to this wonderful winery for lunch called Okurakura. This overlooked the vineyard and the sea. The wind provided the accompaniment to the meal and the sky was dramatically changing colour from black to blue. The food was delicious.
After lunch the sun decided to come out. Bryan then took us to have a look at the beach life of New Plymouth. In summer the surf huts must be buzzing. The area also has some black sand beaches, which Tori was adamant we saw as she loves them. Give me a pure white beach any day. We were also able to see the bridge that looks both like a whale jaw bone and a wave, quite a stunning view against the backdrop of the black sky.
On a clear day you can look down it and see Mt Egmont, alas not today. Bryan also showed us where he comes fishing for his trout, which he then transfers into his pond at home. Pond isn’t really the right word- it’s more like a lake!
Our final stop was the park. This was, as Bryan had promised, very beautiful. As spring had struck the flowers and blossom were beginning to show. The fernery in the park had some stunningly exotic flowers and some interesting grass tunnels. We got to stand on the stage if the mini stadium and performed a small number to the avidly watching ducks.
It was then back home in time for the rugby update (the World Cup was now in full force).
We really didn’t have long in New Plymouth but it was so lovely to get a taste of the area and get to visit somewhere that Stray didn’t go. It was wonderful to Skype my mum and dad whilst at Bryan’s so they could chat and also share pictures with them of Bryan’s mum and her garden.
Thank you for having us and for looking after us. Sorry again for all the coughing!
We look forward to seeing you again soon.