Road Trip With The Canadian: Hitting The West Coast Of New Zealand
How do you write about a city that you recently visited, but didn’t get to see much of? I’m sorry New Plymouth, I got sick on this road trip and spent a lot of time in bed. On the plus side, what I did see was beautiful - you have a great vibe about you, especially refreshing as a city and I hope to come back soon.
Road trip with the Canadian
My friend Tamizan is a surfer, and this trip came about from a conversation about her wanting to surf some of the famous breaks in New Plymouth. I’m not into surfing, but I do like road trips and hiking. I’ve never been to the West Coast, and people have told me about some nice walks in the region. We were lucky with the weather, even though there was chill in the air (being Winter of course), the sun was out apart from the Monday we headed home.
The only other road trip I’ve done late was with my friend, Jemma, when we checked out the Coromandel on the first day of Spring last year. Torrential rain stalked us for most of that trip, which was the complete opposite of this one.
You know when you start your road trip, you’re snap-happy and somehow you end up stopping at pretty random places? A beautiful lake caught my eye at Dunham’s Point, just outside of Whakamaru. It was good place to stretch our legs, and I wish we had more time to walk around. As we headed into the gorge before Whakamaru, I saw a set of stairs which turned out to be a great vantage point - looking down at Lake Whakamaru and the road below. Next time you see stairs - climb them, because you just never know what view you’re missing out on.
Somewhere before we stopped for lunch in Benneydale, we head a loud clunk and realised it was the roof racks with Tamizan’s surfboard on it. It didn’t go fully airborne, but we noticed how loose the racks were. A bit of Kiwi ingenuity later - I used some of an old egg carton she had in her boot (from egging someone house, who knows) and a roll of duct tape. The cardboard gave the enough grip and padding on the roof, and the duct tape just reinforced it. I was pretty proud of that effort.
As I was fixing the roof rack, a couple of guys stopped to make sure we were OK, one even did a U-turn. We thanked them for stopping, but at that stage I was sure the racks would hold and they left us to it. I still say it was because Tamizan was in a singlet though.
The rest of the trip to New Plymouth was spent admiring the incredible landscape. I have to say that as you move away from the gorge and pop out to the coast - that first glimpse is simply breathtaking.
Sunrise at Fitzroy Beach
Tamizan wanted to go for a morning surf, and I wanted to watch the sunrise. We headed to Fitzroy Beach on Saturday morning, and my feet were on the sand about 30 minutes before sunrise. There were already a few surfers out on the water, and it’s a popular beach for dogs and their owners. A black sands beach, there’s a peacefulness to Fitzroy Beach that I resonated with. It was nice to see it without the peak-season crowds.
There were plenty of driftwood huts along the coastline, and made for some interesting sunrise photos.
After our morning adventure, we went back to our house for the weekend. We were staying with Melayna and Steve, friends of Tamizan who had moved down from Tauranga. Melayna is also Canadian who met Steve while he was on holiday in Canada.
Sunsets in the West Coast are something else, just saying.
Awesome street art
When I felt better, Tamizan and I walked around to check out the street art in New Plymouth. I loved the celebration of creativity and culture in these urban spaces, which is a growing positive change in attitude in most cities and towns these days.
We had brunch at a food market being held at the Western Institute of Technology in Taranaki. I have to say I was impressed with the selection, although a little baffled at the lack of vegetarian options (yes, I’m a meat eater, though it’s nice to have meat-free options also). I had the pulled pork with salad greens on a flat fried bread. They also added chipotle sauce, which was a bit runny and made it messy to eat. I would have loved to have tasted the fried bread while it was still warm...that crunch certainly finished it off.
The night before we ate at Café Turquoise, which served Turkish kebabs. It looked like a nice local hangout. I had the lamb kofte - the serving was typically large and I couldn’t finish off my plate. Good value for money and great vibe to catch up with friends, especially if you’re hungry.
Home is where the heart is
Not going to lie, it was nice to see the sign that welcomed us back to the Bay of Plenty region. As I countdown the days as I head overseas, it’s good to know I always have this place to come back to ground myself. Maybe that’s why I needed this road trip - to remember that each place my feet explore is not just another one to tick off my list, it’s being in the here and now while I create those lasting memories.