New Plymouth, New Zealand

We are now staying in New Plymouth with Bev and Mike, whom we met at the Blenheim Reunion I wrote about earlier. They live in a prime location, right next to the golf course and the beach. On our first day, David and I walked along the boardwalk by the beach. The weather was glorious and we watched the surfers strut their stuff, while a group of would-be lifeguards trained by shuttle running on the beach followed by a race around a round a buoy in the sea.

The following day, Mike took David and me up Mount Egmont (more usually referred to as Mount Taranaki). The going was quite steep so we didn’t go too far (and my calves are still sore from all the climbing). We did visit the visitor centre, however, and watched a film about the mountain and its origins, from both the geological and Maori viewpoint – very interesting!

Both Bev and Mike are wonderful cooks and we particularly enjoyed a dinner given by them where we met two of their very entertaining friends, Esmae and Beth (see photo, from L to R: Bev, Esmae, Beth and Mike). We have also met Bev’s cousin, Janice, who invited us to watch her ladies marching team, the Waihi Golden Girls, demonstrate their routine. There were 14 groups from all over North Island taking part in the display and we were fascinated to see their precision marching. Unfortunately, my pathetic camera wasn’t up to the task of long distance shooting during the display, but you can see Janice’s in her marching uniform in the photo.

Following the display, Bev took David and me to the Puke Ariki Museum where we gained a fascinating insight into the area and its history. While we were there, we watched a display of Maori dancing, after which, the audience were invited to learn either the Haka (only for men – I really fancied having a go at that!!!!!) or the Poi, a women’s dance. Bev and I were game (although David declined to do the Haka). We spent an enjoyable 15 minutes or so learning the dance and then we performed it for the onlookers, followed by the men’s Haka – which, judging from some of the men’s pathetic attempts is not as easy as it looks – we women were far more successful!

Today, we went to Pukekura Park, a beautiful oasis in the city. The vegetation was lush and very green (something to do with their one-and-a-half metres of rain a year!) I was fascinated by the reflection in the water of a piece by a sculptor called Michael Smither, called ‘Aotearoa, “the land of the long white cloud”.’ WHEN I finally get my digital SLR camera, I intend to do a series of photos of reflections – watch this space!

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