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Musings Of A Tripper

Barby and I were invited to take part in a five day family sojourn around the Taranaki Circuit + Kawhia/Raglan last week that left us both gob-smacked with the way in which that province has progressed. It was a combined double 80th, and 50th wedding celebration, and it could not have been bettered.

We stopped off at Tauramanui to do the four hour Lost World Railway adventure - an amazing initiative that is really starting to wind up with about thirty separate motor powered golf-cart 'jiggers' - 2 to 6 passenger, and amazing scenery, though we were told that the eight hour journey to Stratford and back is the one. The four hour trip was enough for us, and we drove the heritage Lost World highway to Stratford anyway, via the unique Republic of of Whangamomana, where we stayed in the pub - electric blankets and log fires de rigour. Not exactly gourmet food, but filling!  The Tongarakau Gorge is an absolute wonder - dense podocarp forest.

The Heritage Trail winds on down through Stratford to Dawson's Falls - still a wonderful attraction, beautifully maintained by DoC - staff indicated that the place is now over-run with tourists during summer, but nothing can detract from the lichen drenched kamahi forest on the short walk to the Pools. Wherever you go the 'Mighty Mounga' overhangs you, if you can avoid mist and cloud.

The coast road to New Plymouth is a must, and the city itself a revelation after 20 years absence. It is probably one of the most prosperous little cities in the country, and it shows it. The restaurants and cafes are at least Auckland standard, and on Friday night, filled with the same jostling bar hugging crowds of revellers - often poncy, yes, but perhaps drowning their sorrows after the recent Government oil and gas announcement. I should explain that it was  a tapas joint - say no more!

An Indian establishment on the other hand called Flame provided the best sub-Continent food I have ever experienced in this country, and a 5-star place called Salt, overlooking the water was superb - both with  atmosphere, and top service.

Saturday was for the Len Lye, and Govett Brewster Gallery - the former a surreal architectural 'stake in the sand' that loudly pronounces itself, much like the Guggenheim on 5th Avenue, but with less salubrious surroundings. The range of Lye exhibits was disappointing - don't quite know why - the major one we had seen previously in the Moma.

The library was immensely helpful in identifying family history for Barby - one Eustatious Griffiths by name, prominent figure, and importer of the first Jersey bull - now that is real distinction in Taranaki where the pervasive odour is of a distinctly bovine character. As an aside, there is not a great devotion to riparian planting evident. In fact. the streams are generally of a disgusting colour to go with the smell.  

We took a bunch of e-bikes off on the renowned 13km bike-trail that separates the city from the pounding seascape - that was a revelation, both in regard to the motive power, and the wonderful landscapes to be seen from the 1.5m wide track. Just mind out for kids and walkers - it seems that the entire town uses it. The drive home via Te Awamutu, Kawhia and Raglan was uneventfull and hardly needs explanation here - the driftwood at Mokau provides the same, almost magnetic attraction as ever for certain un-named people.

We used AirB&B units all the way (excepting Whangamomona),  and although I sympathise with other accommodation providers and councils that find it difficult to rate them, there is no doubt that they provide a splendid, and well moderated service.

A wonderful five day trip - thoroughly recommended.   




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