Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Taranaki Beaches - Part Two

"Part One" of our road trip around the Taranaki beaches can be found here. << Read that first.

Continuing on the journey. . .

Oakura is a popular Taranaki beach—a lovely sandy beach.


Back Beach is another favourite of the locals. It’s not too far out of town—right on the outskirts of New Plymouth.

Back Beach had a number of car parks you could stop in that had views over the beach.

We slowly worked our way down.


I tried out the panorama view on my camera for the first time. The beach is not really “bent” like this. I’m wondering if perhaps I tried to fit too much in. The view was fabulous though, and individual pictures just didn’t seem to do it justice.

Then we arrived at the actual beach.


Lucy liked this beach best. She got to run free!

A lot of other dogs and their people were down here enjoying the freedom.

Still a fresh breeze, but she’s tough.

Moving on . . . next we pulled off just near the breakwater and looked back towards the port. Ngamotu Beach is off to the left.

The Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park was behind us, overlooking the sea. Amazing views, no doubt, but we didn’t go up there.

Next stop, (and the last), Fitzroy Beach.

Another beach that is popular with the locals.

Looking back at East End with Paritutu in the background.

Lots of people enjoying the windy conditions.

And that was it! Time to head home . . . (the map below shows where the beaches are)

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Taranaki Beaches - Part One

While we were parked up in Inglewood, we decided to do a road trip around Mount Taranaki and visit some of the beaches along the way. We started south of Hawera at Ohawe Beach.

Lots of stones on this beach, but it's still beautiful. It was windy and cold today, but we wrapped up and went for a walk to see what we could see  . . .

Near the river mouth there were a couple sitting waiting for the tide to turn and hoping for some whitebait.

And some children out closer to the surf.

Next stop was Kaupokonui where there were a lot of motorhomers. There were signs everywhere saying dogs were not welcome, so we didn’t stop.

Opunake Beach was the next beach we came across.

This beach is really popular in the summer, with a dairy (hot chips were nice on this cold day), a campground (no dogs allowed) and a children’s playground. As you can see, the tide's out today, but it's a great beach for swimming.

It was getting late in the day, so we decided to head for home, then come back and see the rest another day. As always, Mt Egmont/Taranaki dominates the landscape.

A couple of days later, we headed back to Opunake, keen to complete the circuit. We drove along the top of the cliffs this time where I took some photos looking back at the main beach.

 And directly below us . . .

A bit further along in the next bay was the Opunake Boat Club. No shops here, but it’s a lovely sandy beach.

There were lots of freedom camping places along the top here—one of them had a handy walkway down to the beach.

As we leave Opunake, we’re reminded that we’re travelling along Surf Highway 45.

We turned off down Kina Road and at the end there was beach access. Not much space to turn around or park—another stony beach.

Taranaki beaches, being on the West Coast, are all black sand. The surf and windsurfing  is, arguably, some of the best in New Zealand. [For surfers, FourCorners website explains the Taranaki beach surf breaks in a language that is way over my head.]

Cape Egmont Lighthouse is at the most western point of Taranaki—on Cape Road, Pungarehu. That’s the mountain behind it, but today it’s shrouded in cloud. I'm sure it would make a stunning photo on a clear day.

As we drove through Okato, we stopped outside this old dairy factory. There are a lot of old dairy factories sprinkled around Taranaki; many of them have been repurposed, like this one. Even the Tawhiti Museum used to be an old Dairy Factory.

To be continued . . . (the map below shows where the beaches are)

Monday, 23 October 2017

Tawhiti Museum

Tawhiti Museum is guaranteed not to disappoint. I've been about four times now, and I’m not really a fan of museums! Well, not usually. But this one is definitely a fun way to see New Zealand history. Each time I go there's something different and interesting.

This time, we explored their new section: "Traders and Whalers".

Although it’s created in a 1000m2 building, as you enter the “tunnels” you get the impression that you’ve gone underground. 

As we walked through the narrow, cool passageways, we passed alcoves with life-size models in them giving an insight into life back in the early 1800s. 

The details in these models is amazing. 

There were also smaller displays with miniature figurines (all made to scale) telling a story of New Zealand history. These were set into the walls and covered with glass.

Kevin (one of the guys in charge of the boats further on in) heard us coming and came to meet us. Then he took us back to explain the various scenes we’d been looking at and also introduced us to the friendly ghost. Yes, truly! Note the sign in the picture of the tunnels previously.

He eventually led us back to where the passageway opens up to a larger area with a jetty (still “underground”) and a small boat that takes you on a journey into the past. We were told that Weta Workshop (Peter Jackson and The Lord of the Rings people) created the amazing “rocks” that were above and alongside us as we climbed aboard. Jim, our friendly boatman, guided our boat slowly down the waterway. 

(This is not a good photo, but if will give you an idea of the set up.)

I wasn’t allowed to take photos during the boat ride (although there are some on their website—see the link at the bottom of this post). You really need to experience it for yourself. There are sound effects and various conversations as you watch the Māori bartering with the traders over wild pigs, flax and muskets. Then you enter a war zone, where guns are blazing. It’s a ten-minute boat trip through a dark bush and coastal setting, where you travel back in time and experience a piece of the 1820s. The kids will love it too!

Leaving the Traders and Whalers we came out into a corridor that led to an impressive display of vintage farm machinery.

One of the things that I think makes this museum special (apart from the incredible collections) is the numerous models that are interspersed among the displays throughout the museum, bringing history to life.

Back outside into the sunlight, we decided we’d enjoy a coffee at Mr Badgers Café. Yes, good coffee!

Decorated along the theme of The Wind in the Willows and true to Tawhiti style, it also has its own models: both a life-size Mr Badger reading a book beside a fire . . .

. . .and set into a wall, several miniature 3-D scenes from chapters out of The Wind in the Willows story. This was just one of them:

There was a great collection of books up high on along one shelf.

We met Nigel Ogle when we first arrived. He was in the gift shop making miniature trees.

Making these models (both life size and miniature) is his passion. He’s an incredibly talented artist. The attention to detail in his creations is amazing. What started out as a hobby and a small private collection has grown into an impressive museum that can be enjoyed by both young and old.

The gift shop has a nautical theme—complete with it's own life-size pirate sitting up in the rafters.

There’s a great video clip on the Tawhiti Museum website that includes part of the boat trip.

There’s also a small train that runs on the first Sunday of each month, Sundays during the school holidays and most public holidays, weather permitting. You’d be advised to check their website for opening hours as they vary.

Tawhiti Museum is not too far out of Hawera—about 4 kilometers. If you’re travelling from the north, watch for the sign to turn off just after you come through Normanby.

It costs $15 for an adult and $5 for a child (pre-schoolers free) to go through the museum and the same prices again to go through the Traders and Whalers part. You’ll need to allow a couple of hours to go through the museum and about 45 minutes to go through the Traders and Whalers.