47 Days on the Road
New Plymouth is really embracing the four seasons thing. There’s a saying that New Zealand’s weather is like four seasons in a day. While not that extreme, we were hammered with wind yesterday, hammered with rain the day before that, but today, we are hammered with the sun. Yay! And you know what people do in New Plymouth on a sunny day? Go to the beach!
The magnificent Paritutu Rock
Ngamotu Beach and Back Beach are separated by a huge rock, called Paritutu Rock. At 156m, the rock is said to have an amazing vantage point at its summit. So that’s where we are heading this morning. You can either walk to the rock along the Coastal Walkway, take a bus (but no buses run on a Sunday and we haven’t had good experiences with New Plymouth’s buses), or drive to the car park just at the base. We opt for the latter – some might say out of efficiency and some might say out of laziness.
With this near-vertical rock staring back at us, we think how on earth have they made a walking track on this thing? As we spot a young family skipping and jumping to the start of the walk, we assume it really can’t be that difficult or dangerous.
Then we realise we are in New Zealand…
For the first section of the walk, we are climbing steep steps. Within 30 seconds we are already huffing and puffing. Then the stairs sort of disappear and the rest of the way is a sort of rock climb with a chain fence on the side to hold onto. This feels pretty awesome, navigating our way up and assessing where we put our feet with each step. Otherwise, if you fall, you’re probably going to get a few sharp rocks in the back on the way down to the nearest flat section. But, ya know, this is just another family Sunday outing in New Zealand. (Maybe not as crazy as our last family Sunday outing though).
Summit going on with these views!
15 minutes later, and we are at the summit! Wow! There’s quite a few features to take in from this height. At sea, we have the Sugar Loaf Islands. These islands were actually formed at the same time as Paritutu Rock, around 1.75 million years ago, which are all part of a series of lava plugs from Mt Taranaki. We had the chance to see these islands up close on a kayaking tour the other day, and now Paritutu Rock is another awesome way to see them. We can even see a seal swimming in the distance, to which the children on the summit right now are shouting: Shark, shark!
On another side, there’s the obvious view of Mt Taranaki. Its snow-peaked tip, near perfect symmetrical cone… Ahhhh, it can never fail to look pretty.
Speaking of volcanoes, we can even see the North Island’s Central volcanoes of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngarauhoe, all covered in snow! It’s such an amazing and bizarre sight these isolated snow-covered volcanoes when we are stood on the coast, surrounded by city and lush-green fields with the sun on our face. It’s just incredible.
Our final point of interest is Back Beach, a long-stretching black sand beach starting from the base of Paritutu Rock. It looks like the perfect spot for lunch.
Going the wrong way never looked so beautiful
Again, you can walk to Back Beach from Paritutu Rock. We don’t, we literally drive 200m down the road to one of the beaches car parks – some might say out of efficiency and some might say out of laziness.
Now, the plan is to have lunch on the beach. But we immediately turn the wrong way and can’t find the beach access, yet we stumble upon a welcome surprise. There’s a patch of grass mowed down on a cliff edge with another perfect view overlooking the Sugar Loaf Islands and Back Beach. This is the perfect sandwich-eating location.
We sit in silence while grazing on our sandwiches, mesmerised by the unusual wave patterns created by the islands. Further down the beach are little black dots, known as surfers, dedicated to catching waves. There’s too much to look at to speak.
One of us breaks the silence and breaks us away from the views to find the beach access. (Probably Robin, Robin lives to break the silence). However, we were not expecting the beach access to be like this.
Sand flailing (the new sand boarding)
We have a long sand dune ahead. Some people are body-boarding down it. Other are using cardboard boxes to slide down. Us, we run down, flailing like uncontrollable monkeys. It’s a lot of fun, until we finish walking the stunning beach, turn around, walk back in the midst of the Paritutu Rock, then have to climb all the way back up again…
Laura makes an excuse to stop at a shallow cave on the way back up. Robin suspects this is an excuse to rest, but Laura insists it’s because the cave is conveniently interesting to have a look at right now. Until she sits down in the cave…
We finally make it to the top of the sand dune. This sand dune is more of a challenge than Paritutu Rock, that’s for sure.
Board game night
The rest of the day is spent catching up on work and generally chilling out at the Ducks & Drakes Backpackers. They have a really neat sun room which feels almost too relaxing when the sun is hitting it in the late afternoon, but best of all, they have a board games cupboard. Every night since we have been here, the dining table has been transformed into a board games station. Some nights a big group of us will team up for games. Other nights, the table is a row of one-on-one board game action. Robin, board game nerd extraordinaire, is in heaven right now.
Tomorrow, we have no idea what’s on the cards. It all hangs in the balance of how long it is going to take the panel beaters to fix an oil leak on the bottom of our campervan: standard. Whether you have a vehicle or not, there is always something to do in New Zealand. Check in tomorrow to see what the hell that is.
Take a look around our stunning picnic spot
We can help with that. Check out these articles:
- 8 Wonderful Walks in New Plymouth, Taranaki
- Egmont National Park – Guide for Backpackers
- 22 Stunning Beaches in New Zealand
Plus, we’re giving away a Govett-Brewster Art Gallery goody bag straight from the art scene of New Plymouth. (We were given too many goodies for the two of us, so we want to give some away to you guys!) Just comment on this Facebook post, with a cool piece of art that you’ve found in New Zealand to be put in the draw. The winner will be announced by the end of the week by being contacted on Facebook.
Legal bit: The giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.
See you tomorrow!