Last Thursday something amazing happened in
Wellington – the sun was out all day and it got quite warm! After work we
joined the crowds outside a bar near the waterfront where everyone was enjoying
the sunshine, even sitting on the grass. Bar staff were going round with tubs
of sunscreen, as sunburn is a big issue here.
Needless to say the good weather didn’t last,
and by the weekend it was grey and drizzling again. We decided to drive up to
Taranaki again, to see the Festival of Lights in Pukekura Park in New Plymouth
and to explore the ‘Surf Highway’ which circles the mountain to the west. We
left on Friday evening and drove as far as Wanganui, setting off from there on
Saturday morning. The Surf Highway was a bit of a washout, as the low clouds
meant there was no sign of the mountain and the coast itself is grey and
depressing. In the evening, however, we went to see the park lit up along with
lots of other people, and even took a boat out on the lake despite the drizzle.
This was all good, and later we walked through the town to view a couple of
private houses lit up with Christmas lights. On the way we witnessed a police
chase and the car being pursued ramming a lamppost, which all added to the
excitement of the evening.
On Sunday the weather cleared a bit, and the
mountain appeared. We drove up to the North Egmont Visitor Centre and did a
two-hour walk from there, with some good views. Later clouds came over and it
vanished again, but many people go to Taranaki without ever seeing the mountain
at all. We’ve been twice, and seen it both times.
We visited the town of Stratford on the way
back, in order to witness the performance of its clock tower, which does
extracts from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with figures of the characters popping out of odd
windows. This was mildly entertaining, if a bit tacky. The drive home via
Wanganui was uneventful, apart from a break for a great meal in a cafe with an
excellent veggie menu.