Thursday, 21 December 2017

Taranaki Trip (Part 2)

Last month, we had a holiday in Taranaki, from 12 to 19 November. We spent three days in New Plymouth where we did quite a lot of biking, and three days in Eltham, where we did bike a little but did mostly other activities. This is the second instalment about this trip. Part 1 can be found here

Day 4 – Pukekura Park and the search for the Waiwhakaiho track

We rode from the cottage to the Bowl of Brooklands. This is a large open-air stage surrounded by a lake, with a hillside grass amphitheatre that can hold 15,000 people. It is part of Pukekura Park. The entrance is at the top of a long steep drive, which we biked down.

The Bowl of Brooklands stage (photo by John)

From the Bowl, there was a wide path leading into Pukekura Park, but John didn’t want to bike there, because we had seen a “no bikes” sign, so we climbed back up the very steep drive to the entrance. But up there, we asked a gardener if one could bike through the park and he said “sure, absolutely, just be careful and don't go too fast”.

So back down we went into the park, along a lovely path towards the big lake, which is spanned by a couple of pretty bridges.

The shorter of the two bridges

The red of the bridge contrasts beautifully with the green backdrop

The bridge over the main lake (photo by John)

We made our way to the Tea House, where we stopped for coffee and muffins. Then on our way again to circumnavigate the lake, and to take photos of the fountain. Just as I wanted to take a photo, the fountain stopped playing. At my disappointed “darn!”, a passer-by said you had to push the button “up there” to make it go. So John obliged by biking “up there” to turn it on.

The Tea House On The Lake (photo by John)

For once, a photo of John with a coffee cup, instead of me 

The famous fountain in the lake

After we climbed back out of the Brooklands Bowl, we found the Kunming Garden, a traditional Chinese garden, which celebrates the sister city relationship that New Plymouth has with Kunming, the capital of Yunan Province in China. The garden was created by Chinese craftsmen and local landscapers, and features a moon gate entrance and a pavilion, connected by a meandering pathway.

The Moon Gate into the Kunming Garden (photo by John)

The Kunming Pavilion (photo by John)

The ceiling of the pavilion (photo by John)

Next we went looking for the Waiwhakaiho track, which proved to be a bit elusive. We went past the Racecourse and John's old school, New Plymouth Boys’ High, down Cumberland Street and found a way down to the Waiwhakaiho River, but not the track we were looking for.

This was the Audrey Gale Reserve. As we were riding down a very steep road, I was thinking “I hope this leads somewhere, or it will be hard work climbing out of here again!”. It was a very attractive area, but it was a dead end.

The road into the Audrey Gale Reserve (photo by John)

We found the Waiwhakaiho River, but not the track we were looking for (photo by John)

It was a hard slog climbing out of there! (photo by John)

Eventually we did find the track we were looking for but it too was short-lived. We followed a sealed track, but then it became gravel. We thought we would see how far it went. We met a woman grooming some horses in a paddock, who told us it was a dead end only a little further up, so we turned around and went back.

The track was very skiddy, and I went for a spill when I slid around in soft sand. I landed on my left elbow – the one that already hurt – and I had cramp in my leg trying to get up. I couldn't lift the bike off me, so John lifted it off, and then helped me up. By coincidence, his bike camera, which is set on a time-lapse, took a photo of him helping me up.

Oops, and ouch! (photo by John)

Then only seconds later, about a dozen metres further on, John went for a tumble as well. That gave me a big fright. He fell to the right of his bike, landed on his right shoulder (big graze) and rolled onto his back, and in so doing he hurt his left shoulder. He thinks the impact went right across from right to left. He was in quite a bit of pain for about a week after that.

After those little mishaps, we gave up trying to find the rest of this damned track and made our way down to the Coastal Track, emerging north of Fitzroy. We walked down a grassy slope rather than making a big detour around the golf course like we did the day before.

We walked down a grassy slope … (photo by John)

We had lunch at “Petit Paris” by the Te Henui Stream again, then made our way home to our cottage without further mucking about. I think we'd both had enough of biking. The rest of the afternoon was spent very pleasantly, reading in the sun.

After dinner in town, we went for a bit of a drive, as the sun was getting very low. We ended up at the next beach beyond Back Beach, and stayed there to watch the sunset. It was beautiful – not a cloud in the sky, the tide coming in, a few people with a dog running on the beach providing good silhouettes for photos, and surfers riding the waves.

The golden glow of the evening sun (photo by John)

Sunset on the beach (photo by John)

The dog was having such fun chasing the waves (photo by John)

Chasing after a stick (photo by John)

Got it! (photo by John)

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