Wellington to New Plymouth
Nov 6, 2018
|Taranaki/New Plymouth 6th Nov 11-20°C, Partly cloudy, fine later.
Picked up hire car from Thrifty at Te Aro, nice new Toyota corolla. Burning question: "Why do car hire firms persistently clean the floor mats and pedals with silicone based products?"
Slipped and mis-pedalled my way out of Wellington towards hwy 3 around the west coast to New Plymouth. Stopped at the rustic 'River Cottage Cafe' at Otaki for a good breakfast & driver's fuel (coffee).
Turned left at Patea for a couple of kilometres to the ocean lookout, nice view of rugged cliffs along the coastline.
Stayed on hwy 3 to Whanganui then 45, the 'Surf Highway' at Hawera. Not far from Hawera, today being mostly clear, the huge volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki appeared, still snowcapped. For the next 70 km it dominated the skyline above the green farmland until it's peak hooked a bank of cloud.
Hwy 45 is a good two lane sealed road with some sudden dips and S-bends, some views of the ocean but you really need to turn off to one of the beaches for coastal scenery. There's the occasional rural hazard such as a huge farm tractor (I encountered six), but they pull to the side to let you pass.
20 km from Opunake, I took a left on to the sealed one lane Cape Rd, 5km to Cape Egmont Lighthouse. The lighthouse is open 9am-5pm daily.
About four km from New Plymouth, Paritutu Rock and the Sugar Loaf Islands appear along the coast. Remnants of volcanic activity, the Sugar Loaf Islands are within a Marine Park. Paritutu is a landside pinnacle about 150 metres high which has a very steep 20 min climb to the top, assisted by holding onto chains fastened to the rock. I gave it a try but only for the first part by stairs, the rock scramble was too hard on my knees. Fitness fanatics race up and down regardless.
Back a km or so there is a carpark with access to Back Beach, a black sand beach on which you can walk towards Paritutu and the islands. Well worth getting the shoes off for a sunset stroll on the blackest sand below the colourful cliffs, but watch the tide! It comes right up to the foot of the cliffs. The wave action rolls pebbles the size of your fist up the beach on the incoming tide.
Dropped off luggage at the Metrotel Motor Inn, great value stylish hotel in a good location, I really like this one, no fault found.
Drove a few km to Lake Rotomanu and the unique Te Rewa Rewa pedestrian & cycling bridge, part of the coastal walkway. Mt Taranaki decided to put in an appearance, making a very scenic view through the bridge.