Wednesday, July 25, 2007

25 July 2007

25 July 2007…

…I think. Oh, oh. I’m starting to lose track of the days. That might mean that I’ll forget to go back to work. Sorry Charles and Donna. ;-)

An interesting day today. We walked down to Puke Ariki and met up with Diana Gibbons and then walked back up to where her car is parked… in the carpark over the road from our motel. Oh, well. All good exercise.

Diana introduced us to Suzette, who is considering writing a book about Uncle Fred. At last! Taranaki is finally coming to realise what a special, unique man he was, instead of just thinking of him as being some eccentric (it’s hereditary).

Diana was good enough to take us on a ‘Tiki Tour’ (or maybe a ‘Puke Ariki Tour’) around Taranaki. And when you look at the area covered, it was quite a tour.

Our first stop was to the beginning of Mountain Road where Uncle Fred used to live. Only one of his houses remain, and it’s been changed. Diana had contacted the owner, but her husband died last week and the previous owners had ripped out the interior, so we decided about going inside. It is now an overnight truck stop.

Then we continued along Mountain Road to the Pukerangiora Historic Reserve, where there is “Pratt’s Sap” (I’ll bet he was a right prat too.) They’d dug this trench so they could attack a Maori Pa, and the Maori just stood up on the top of the hill, in their pa and took pot-shots at them. The view from the pa was amazing, and we saw the cliffs where the tribe threw themselves, and their children off, rather than fall into the hands of the Waikato Maori. In the distance we could see the Maui oil rig. This was the only time in the day when we needed our raincoats for rain, rather than warmth.

Then we continued along Mountain Road with a stop off in Inglewood at the Fun Ho! Toy Museum. (Diana was good enough to pay for the entry) Very interesting. I’m sure I’ve got some of their toys at home. Must look in my toy box.

The road to that point had been a bit windy, so we had morning tea. Diana had a coffee and D.C. and I had a muffin and a hot water each. The café was nearly a museum piece itself. All the old style of sandwiches and cakes, percolated coffee rather than the lattes etc. The muffins were good. Not too sodary or sweet. Good to put into our stomachs. It was the only time the entire trip when we both felt a little bit of motion sickness – and it wasn’t much.

Then on again. We stopped off at Diana’s home town of Stratford. Apparently the town clock is a glockenspiel and at 1.00pm figures come out and recite Shakespeare, but we were there at 12.00md.

We did stop at the Taranaki Pioneer Village ($10/adult) and had a ride in their train ($2 each) - of course. The loco was electric, but set up to look and sound like steam. The sound effects were probably done by the same man who did the Thames Small Gauge Railway’s ‘Dexter’ – I’m pretty sure he was from Taranaki.

Then we had a look around the village. A school group were there and they were dressing up in period costume. They looked so cute with the girls in their pinafores and bonnets and boys in over long breeches and partially undone braces.

We had lunch there. Diana and D.C. had pumpkin soup, while I had cheese and pineapple toasted sandwich ($6.00) and a hot chocolate ($4.00).

We had a stop off in Hawera as Diana had something to do. While she did that D.C. and I had a look around King Edward Park, and saw a statue of what we assumed was Wendy, as a companion to Wanganui’s Peter Pan. The Chinese Garden needed a bit of TLC, which was sad.

Another stop off at Opunake, where we had afternoon tea – organic apple juice and chocolate and caramel slice. (Diana paid) We also bought a couple of stuffed kumara for tea. Saw the statue of Peter Snell, the three time gold medallist for the 800 and 1500 metres– he was born there.

On the way back we passed through two fields where Mount Taranaki has collapsed over the millennia. All these little hillocks that were actually bits of mountain. As the sun was getting low in the sky, the light effects was very pretty.

We also passed a stream that often has lahars. You hear a lot about Ruapehu’s lahars, but I don’t ever remember hearing about other mountains in New Zealand producing them. I suppose it’s logical that they must… and since they think that Mount Taranaki is possibly going to be the site of the next big eruption…

Speaking of Mount Taranaki (Mount Egmont – and I did ask, most locals call it Mount Taranaki now), he was being very modest and wasn’t about to reveal himself to us. He lifted his Piupiu enough to show us his ankles and that was it!

Maybe tomorrow. Now what’s the weather forecast? *quick trip over to the MetService website* Max 15º, min 12º and showers. Same as today except the minimum’s going to be two degrees warmer.

As we were coming back into New Plymouth, Diana took us down to see the end of the walkway and where the port is.

We got back to the carpark/motel at roughly 5.00pm and said goodbye and thank you to Diana. When you look at the map, she took us on a real round trip - right around the mountain (and he still hid from us.)

We went back to the motel and decided that we needed some exercise so went for a walk along the waterfront. We didn’t go too far as it was getting dark and we didn’t know the area. The Sugarloafs and the chimney were all in silhouette and as we turned for ‘home’ I tried to work out what the light coloured object off shore was. I initially thought it was a boat and then realised that it had to be the Maui oilrig platform.

Came home, weren’t hungry so did a load of washing ($2.00 for laundry powder, $3.00 for the dryer), and then while we waited I checked my emails and downloaded Firefox and Thunderbird. Well! What else would you expect ME to use as an email browser? Enjoyed our kumara and then looked at today’s photos.

D.C.’s been in bed about an hour and I’m still diary typing/blogging. It’s 10.45 and I’d better get to bed too.

Talk to you tomorrow.

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