January requires a more concentrated organisation if we are to celebrate our birthdays in style.
This year was to be no exception with a smidgen of luxury and not a tent in sight.
Though it would not involve an overseas destination.
It would involve a slice of New Zealand paradise.
Our Tūrangawaewae – Our place to stand.
More specifically New Plymouth situated on the west coast of the North Island.
Here are a few Snippets about Taranaki
Taranaki was named after Mt Taranaki, the 2,518m stratovolcano that dominates the region, nestled quietly away on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Approximately 4 hours drive from Tauranga, give or take a few moments for coffee stops.
The mountain is the North Islands second highest mountain, standing enormous and proud. Defying anyone to knock him off the worlds second-best region in the world to visit title. Mt Taranaki has erupted 160 times in the past 36,000 years. The last major eruption was in 1954.
A rich Maori history. Especially Parihaka, a community located between Mount Taranaki and the Tasman Sea.
In the 1870s and 1880s the Parihaka settlement, then reputed to be the largest Māori village in New Zealand, became the centre of a major campaign of non-violent resistance to European occupation of confiscated land in the area. Armed soldiers were sent in and arrested the peaceful resistance leaders and many of the Maori residents, often holding them in jail for months without trials.
Why head to Taranaki and specifically New Plymouth?
Unassuming. Underrated. New Zealand.
That’s why Taranaki has been voted the second-best region in the world to visit.
For that very reason.
It is unassuming. Certainly, underrated. To understand this, you’d have to visit for yourself. We re-visited and re-realised it’s uniqueness.
The beautiful Pukekura Park, with its ornate red bridge and yearly Festival of Lights.
The inviting coastal walk with creative outdoor art, the red wind wand above and below the Firkee-Wala. All just a few metres from the city centre.
The art galleries, the seafront art, the cafe scene, a historical park, the coastal walks, the WOMAD concert and well just it’s unassuming “kiwiness with a touch of worldness”. It’s the laidback atmosphere that makes this place a winner to enjoy a long weekend. Especially as you get to take a detour from New Zealand’s well-trodden tourist route.
What you don’t come for in general is the weather. Being on the west coast, the beaches can be wild. Luckily for us, we were caressed by warm sea breezes and not a wild west coast wind.
Taranaki is a special place, for both of us, with many personal stories attached to it. One such link is this is the birthplace of the Squire’s Mum [Joan]. As we travelled along the winding and picturesque road, had us thinking of Joan and the sharing of stories began. One story we discussed was as a young woman, she would often be a pillion passenger on her father’s motorbike. Even involving a long trip to the Bay of Plenty. There wouldn’t have been many if any roads without gravel. Rough as guts those roads would have been. It never ceases to amaze us how hard that journey must have been as well as been an adventure for her.
For myself, my ancestors on my father’s side first set foot in New Zealand by a passenger ship back in the approximately mid-1800s. That too would have been an arduous trip on various levels. We learnt more of this journey via being part of a huge family reunion back in the 1980s.
Then here we are carrying on that tradition of travelling those roads. Though a shorter distance and with far more comfort. Some folk shudder at the travelling hours required to go from home to the “Naki”. Well, us two, we embrace both the milage and the views. It means an adventure, some more interesting than others.
This trip and others to follow. I was driving. The reason I found myself at the wheel so that the Squire had an opportunity to enjoy our countryside. For years, he has taken on the role of driving ‘Mrs V’. As with most things involving travel, patience is required on both sides, Luckily, most advice like driving tips was taken on board with good humour.
All in all, roadies are a great form of entertainment for more than one reason.