We landed in Auckland in the afternoon of September 10, 2011, enjoyed a McDonald’s Kiwiburger (below) during our layover, and then hopped on a tiny plane to New Plymouth.
As we started our descent into New Plymouth, I took the advice of our pilot and took a few photos of the famous Mt. Taranaki. I am so glad that I caught these few pictures with my phone because the mountain was obscured by clouds during the remainder of our visit!
Remember, the camera broke in New Caledonia so the pics from the first few days of our New Zealand trip our taken with my iPhone.
We checked into The Devon Hotel in New Plymouth, changed, and went out to explore the town a bit.
As we walked downtown we were amazed at the support shown for the different countries competing in New Plymouth; USA, Ireland, Russia, and Wales were all being represented in brightly decorated shop windows. Here are a few of our USA favorites:
The next day, Sunday, was September 11th. We were amazed at the heartfelt support and condolences the Kiwis showed throughout our trip, and this was especially true on September 11th through a memorial service, parade, and moment of silence during the game that night.
The night of the game we dressed in our red, white, and blue and took a cab to a pub outside the stadium to meet up with a local couple, Mike and Caz, that we met the night before at a hibachi grill. After a drink we joined the throng of people pushing toward the stadium, and headed to our seats once inside.
As it turned out, our seats were actually sodden dirt/grass benches so we ended up standing the whole game. The stadium was small but well-kept, and filled with American, Irish, and Kiwi supporters. We ran into folks from Florida, Rhode Island, Michigan, and of course a few Texans! The Irish were rowdy but overall very friendly, and although we lost the game (as expected) Wes and I had a really great time!
After the game we went to a local Irish pub and were, surprisingly, not the only Americans there! We did make some Irish friends and we had a GREAT time… pretty epic time, actually.
The next day we had a nice time exploring more of the town and even going to see a movie (Cowboys & Aliens) before heading back to the hotel for a quick nap before dinner. We went to dinner at a nice steak place hoping to find some Wagyu beef, and we did, but it was not as good as the Wagyu we have had in Texas. Their explanation was that everything in New Zealand is grass-fed and thus has a different flavor than our grain-fed Wagyu. In that case, I will take my fatty, grain fed beef over grass-fed ANY day!
Tuesday was our big day. We rented a car and drove along the famous Surf Highway 45, the road between the awesome Mt. Taranaki and the glittering black sand beaches of the coast. Taranaki is a unique state because you have skiing and surfing within an hour of each other!
Next, we stopped in Egmont National Park, the park that is home to Mt. Taranaki. At the base of the mountain is a lush rainforest that we called “Fern Gully.”
We continued on around the mountain looking for a road that would take us farther up the mountain, and along the way we drove through the most gorgeous green countryside. There was stream after stream of the clearest mountain water, so finally we were able to pull over and take a picture:
We took our camera out to play with it some more, and Wes finally got the lens to open up so we were able to use it again!
Finally, we made it up to a point on the mountain called Dawson Falls. We parked our car and hiked to the falls, having a little snowball fight along the way 🙂
By the time we returned to our car, it was past noon so we decided to leave the mountain and head North so we could view Elephant Rock at low tide. The drive was winding, nerveracking, and poor Wes had to drive it! We did get some awesome pictures, though!
We arrived at Three Sisters Beach around 3:30pm, so we still had to wait at least 30 minutes for the tide to be low enough for us to walk up to Elephant Rock and the Three Sisters. It never did get low enough for us to do that while we were there, but we did have fun exploring the caves, looking around for the famous caveman drawing of a six-toed foot (never found it).
Here’s a video of Wes trying to jump across a puddle to go farther into the cave. He actually did make it across after I quit filming.
When we finally decided that it was getting too late for us to wait for the tide to go down any more, we drove up to a viewpoint to see Elephant Rock and the Three Sisters from a distance. I’d been dreaming of this moment since I knew we were coming to New Zealand!
Here is a view of the countryside as we made our way back to New Plymouth to enjoy our last night in New Zealand:
The next morning we flew to Auckland and ran like the dickens to catch our flight to Melbourne, and the blog post for that part of the trip is next!
New Zealand is just as stunningly beautiful as I’d heard it was, and if I had my choice I would go back right this second! The people are kind and have a wicked sense of humor – I loved it! To the Kiwis we met there (you know who you are), you are welcome to visit us in Texas ANY time!
To view all of our pictures from the beautiful country of New Zealand, view the album!
All of our videos from the trip are on Youtube, here.
If you have any comments, questions, or would like more information on where we stayed, played, and ate please email me: MissusMcTraveler@gmail.com