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New Zealand: New Plymouth

The Mon’s Adventure in New Zealand recap is finally here! Over our short Christmas break, The Adventouriist and I decided to go somewhere not too far to do a bit of camping on the North Island in New Zealand. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for both North and South so we decided to save South Island for another time.

We left at midnight on December 30th just in time to celebrate NYE in New Zealand. We landed in Wellington as it was the cheapest flight, but all the places we wanted to visit from there were a bit of a drive away.

We rented a sedan from Omega Rentals and had to take a shuttle from Wellington Airport to the car depot – our first thought was that the driver/New Zealand customer service wasn’t as friendly as Australia but maybe we’re just too accustomed to making small talk with Aussies.

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We brought most of our camping gear – self-inflatable mattress, four person tent (we’re crazy, I know!) and sleeping bags all the way from Oz and managed to fit it into this little old Nissan. Day 1 was spent stocking up on groceries and driving from Wellington to New Plymouth for about 5 hours.

The Campsite: Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park, 2 Belt Rd, Motorua
We booked a powered site at this caravan park after I viewed pictures of some great seaside views. For only $27 we were right on the edge of the shore, with peaceful ocean views and sounds.

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We booked a powered site mainly to charge phones and other items but our worst fear was confirmed when we saw the powerpoints at campsites were not your everyday powerpoints. We also couldn’t find where to buy these special cords for our whole trip so if anyone knows, we’d love to know for next time!

The Food: Manou’s Waterfront Cafe, 5 Ocean View Parade, Port Taranaki
It was New Year’s Eve, so we took a stroll as our caravan park had a path leading down to the dock.

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We browsed our dining options and ended up at Manou’s due to its funky exterior and unique vibe as opposed to the fish and chip shop and the fine dining seafood restaurant.

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We sat outside over the ocean to enjoy the sunset view. The food itself was casual and not bad – I found my pasta was a little too saucy. But we enjoyed that the owner came out to talk to us and gave us ideas of what to do in New Plymouth – unfortunately we had already planned our whole trip and were to leave the next day, but we appreciated the tips!

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New Year’s Eve: TSB Festival of Lights, Pukekura Park
I couldn’t find a lot of things to do for New Year’s Eve in any place other than Auckland, but we ended up visiting New Plymouth to drop by the Festival of Lights in Pukekura Park. It runs from Dec-Jan if any of you plan to be in New Plymouth around that time.

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We were also hoping the town would have some small firework display but we were told they haven’t done it for a few years.

The free lights festival seemed to be gathering a large crowd with many people walking in and out. But we only saw a few things before the rain came down – a person in a gorilla costume in a tree entertaining the kids, a pond with a light up display, a concert from a distance.

When it started raining we tried to wait it out under a tree, but eventually it kept getting heavier and we decided to call it quits. We ended up back in our tent reading our Rememberlutions from the year and enjoyed reminiscing about all the things that happened. (The Adventouriist had so many that this lasted way past midnight lol!)

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The Mountain: Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, Fitzroy
We were due to leave the next day but I wanted to stop by Te Rewa Rewa Bridge before we departed the town. It seems to be a popular landmark in New Plymouth and it’s framed perfectly to showcase another key attraction – Mount Taranaki.

IMG_9420 copyEverywhere you drive in New Plymouth, you can see this enormous mountain shadowing the town. When we first saw it, the top disappeared into the clouds as if it was reaching to the heavens.

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Lots of people were taking photos on the bridge and lots of families were also cycling past. If we had a full day in New Plymouth I’m sure we would have found enough things as there were cycling and hiking options we couldn’t fit in.

We were off to the centre of North Island – Taupo, so after this quick stop we were off on another long four hour drive.

Things we learnt:

  • Midnight flights to New Zealand are not ideal on uncomfortable Jetstar planes as you can’t get a good sleep, especially when you plan to land, rent a car and drive for another five hours.
  • Petrol in New Zealand is super expensive! Almost $2 a litre and prices like $1.60-80 even look cheap. As our dollars are almost on par, this was quite expensive.
  • Kiwis call eskies ‘chilly bins’. Lucky I saw this on a forum before we came. After asking for an esky and getting a blank look, we realised we had to say ‘chilly bin’. The grocery store didn’t have eskies but the friendly staff got a Styrofoam box from the deli for us – which was much more ideal so we could throw it away before travelling back to Oz.
  • The Adventouriist picks up accents really easily, already saying ‘fush’ at dinner after not even being in New Zealand for 24 hours.

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Photography by myself and The Adventouriist. Stay tuned for the next instalment of our time around the Taupo region.



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