Sunday 9 Dec
We drove around 5 hours to New Plymouth. This is the first time on the motorways, as last visit we avoided them, so we got to see some new towns and scenery. Purple Agapanthus lillies are flowering everywhere, and there are also lots of Hydrangeas which have been planted, but thrive without care along the roadsides. Once we settled into our accommodation Braemar Motor Inn (cheap but clean) it was time for a walk downtown to get a few supplies, before a longer walk along the Coastal Walk towards the Port. Dinner was delicious NZ organic free-range pork chops, broccoli, white sweet potato and NZ Chardonnay.
Monday 10 Dec
We decided to go South-west, and pulled into a road which seemed to lead to some shorter walks up the Kaitake Range. The area was called Lucy's Gully and we walked up Waimoku Track through stands of huge pine trees.
Darryl went a bit further up the track than me, but we arrived back about the same time, as I took it very easy going downhill, so as not to risk my knee. This was a really beautiful area. Next stop was down to the edge of the Tasman Sea to look at the wreck of the 'Gairloch' on the rocks. This was from 1903, and most has rotted away, but a few iron spines still point to the sky.
Then further around Mt Taranaki was the Pukeiti Gardens. The Rhododendrons, which are featured here, were almost at the end of their flowering, and the Giant Himalayan Lillies were about to start, but we did find some of each in flower. There were lots of other colourful and interesting plants, and as well as plenty of NZ natives along the walks. A huge colourful pigeon was a highlight of the walk.
After lunch we drove back towards the coast and the clouds lifted and we were treated to some fabulous views of Mt Taranaki over lush green fields.
The next stop was Tupare Gardens. These cascade down the side of a hill to the Waiwhakaiho River, which bounds the gardens along two sides. Darryl cooked delicious gluten-free herb sausages for dinner.