Two days after we got back from Samoa, Jeremy travelled up to New Plymouth on business for a couple of weeks. There was just about enough of a turnaround time for us to unpack, do the laundry and repack the cases before reloading the car and setting off again. Sophia and I decided to tag along for the first week and it was a great opportunity to see another part of the country, even if there was an earthquake whilst we were there…
New Plymouth is the main coastal city of the Taranaki region. Mt Taranaki is only 30 minutes drive and New Plymouth claims to be a place where visitors can “snowboard, ski, water ski and surf all in the same day”. In the last few years it has received substantial investment towards boosting the walking and cycling infrastructure and as a result caters very well for these with loads of walkways and gardens in and around the city.
Here are our top 5 highlights:
# 1 Mount Taranaki/Egmont National Park
No matter where you travel in and around New Plymouth on a clear day, the views of Mount Taranaki are amazing! We didn’t travel into Egmont National park but Dawson Falls and the hiking routes come highly recommended. We enjoyed the views from afar, a particularly good one was from the top of Paritutu Rock.
#2 Paritutu Rock and Sugar Loaf Islands
If you like hiking and scaling rocks, then Paritutu Centennial Park is going to be right up your street. If you have a baby in your backpack and you don’t read the signs properly then you’re in trouble! Yes that was me. All I remember reading was ’30 minutes to the peak, sturdy footwear advised’ and thought that it would be a good workout with my 10kg backpack. For once I was not in flipflops (or what the Kiwis call: jandals) so I began the staircase route which promptly disappeared not even into a track but rocks-I ended up scaling a rock face!! I’m not even exaggerating. I was on all fours for the last 10 minutes despite asking other hikers if they thought I should carry on or turn back. Cheers for the advice guys! You should have said ‘Turn back crazy woman. Take your child to a place of safety away from the cliff edge!’. Anyway, I got there and back safely even though I had to bum-shuffle like a crab the entire way down. I’m sure someone has captured footage and posted it on the internet, but hey, the views were incredible and absolutely worth it. Mt Taranaki behind us and Sugar Loaf Islands out to sea in front of us. Divine!
#3 Pukekura Park and Brooklands Zoo
Rated top of all the things to do in New Plymouth on TripAdvisor, this ‘inner city botanical wonderland’ covers 52 hectares. It comprises of beautiful lakeside forests, palm gardens, waterfalls, lakes, play parks, tea rooms and a zoo. You could spend hours walking around here and we did. I’m so glad that I dropped a pin in google maps when we arrived otherwise I would have not been able to remember at which exit I parked my car. We went exploring here on our first day in New Plymouth and I happened to get chatting to a lovely friendly lady in the park. It turns out that her husband was also working in New Plymouth that week and she was also tagging along on a business trip with her little girl. We clicked straight away, became besties on the spot 🙂 and hung out almost every day! Friendly people make the world a better place…and it helps that we’re as crazy as each other. We’ve booked flights to hang out again soon already! Who does that?! Besties, that’s who.
#4 New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
The 10km coastal walkway which stretches almost the entire length of the city is pretty incredible! Te Rewa Rewa Bridge and Len Lye’s Wind Wand sculpture are two of the iconic landmarks along the route through picturesque farmland, Waipu Lagoons, Te Rewa Rewa Reserve, the surfy Fitzroy and East End beaches and the city water’s edge. There are loads of benches and play parks along the way too for pit stops and snack times.
#5 The Best Coffee Shop in Town
If truth be told, I did think that ‘Elephant Rock’ would take this #5 spot, however as you see below it has been relegated entirely, so we went in search of a replacement! After hearing about Ozone Coffee Roasters at the London Coffee Festival and sampling their brew there back in 2016, we managed to locate their shop and roastery in New Plymouth and it did not disappoint. Afternoon coffee breaks there were the absolute best, made even better by it being 5 minutes walk from Jeremy’s office. We are seriously considering have their beans delivered to Wellington!
We travelled further north of New Plymouth to Mokau for the weekend and went in search of ‘Elephant Rock’ and ‘The Three Sisters’. These were highlighted in my handy guide book as tourist attractions. When we mentioned them to the locals and they had no idea what or where we were talking about this should have been a clue….The photo below is what were expecting to see and the one below that is what we actually saw! It turns out that there is an ‘Elephant Rock’ in Mokau, but the elephant rock photographed below is actually in Missouri! You win some, you lose some. Research is everything! Turns out that since the recent earthquakes, the actual elephant in New Plymouth has now lost his trunk! Poor old Nellie is Nellie no more.
Top Photo cred: Instagram cat.jerome
Other great places to visit included:
- Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
- Todd Energy Aquatic Centre
- Puke Ariki Museum and Library
- Centre City Shopping Centre
- Lake Mangamohoe
A Business Trip with a Baby
I found that packing for a business trip was much easier than a normal holiday. Firstly, the motel that we stayed at had all the gadgets and gizmos that we needed: microwave, hairdryer, laundry facilities, highchair, kitchenette etc. There was a shopping centre just around the corner so I didn’t pack a million snacks and 100s of nappies, we just did our usual weekly grocery shop. This meant that I could cook food for Sophia and didn’t have to feed her packet food for each meal. Packets/pouches are convenient, especially when travelling but I love cooking and prefer to make meals from scratch so that I know exactly what our little cherub is consuming. No added salt or sugar necessary. In the early weaning days we systematically introduced a range of foods to her diet and these days she eats the same as us so it isn’t much effort at all. We didn’t know that our accommodation would have a kitchenette so brought our trusty mini compact steamer cooker and ideas for some 3 in 1 dinners that didn’t create much washing up. I’m a bit of a lazy cook and I’ve shared some recipe ideas below.
Healthy toddler meal ideas:
- Steamed fresh white fish, baby boiled potatoes and courgettes: Cooked in the 3-tiered steamer cooker then mashed with a bit of milk.
- Steamed salmon, rice and asparagus: As above.
- Roast chicken with sweet potatoes: My easiest effortless ‘go to’ meal which always goes down well. Bake a chicken breast and a few sweet potatoes in one oven dish. Cook the potatoes with the skins on then unpeel them after they are cooked. Mash the potatoes and add milk to taste. Serve with something green like raw spinach leaves and cut the chicken into finger-food-sized pieces.
- Superfood quinoa salad: Boil the quinoa in a pan, add frozen peas and sweetcorn for the last 5 minutes then stir in chickpeas, pomegranate seeds and raisins. Serve hot or cold with raw spinach or avocado finger food.