Our drive yesterday through the Waikato region reminded me of the glorious diversity of NZ's landforms. The temperate, agricultural Waikato region stretches from Auckland roughly down to Mokau, where we paused on our journey yesterday. It's home to the Waitomo Caves with their glowworms and was a primary location for filming the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Fodors reminds us that "Polynesian sailors first landed on the region's West Coast as early as the mid-14th century. Europeans, mainly British, didn't settle here until the 1830s. In the 1860s, the Waikato's many tribes united to elect a king in an attempt to resist British encroachment. The King Movement, as it is known, is still a significant cultural and political force within Waikato Maroidom."
I love this countryside, where farmland gives way to forest and, as we near the coast, more tropical trees.
In New Plymouth, on the coast at the foot of Mt Taranaki, we just missed the WOMAD (World of Music, Arts, and Dance). Phooey.
(trouble viewing cick here)
Here's a webshot of New Plymouth, Taranaki dominant in the background.
Via wiki: Mount Taranaki, or Mount Egmont, is an active but quiescent stratovolcano in the Taranaki region on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island...The 2518-metre-high mountain is one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world. Because of its resemblance to Mount Fuji, Taranaki provided the backdrop for the movie The Last Samurai.
And the long view from the International Space Station, New Plymouth up at 12 o'clock. In a couple of days we're going to stay at a lodge up on Taranaki and do some hiking.
New Plymouth itself runs primarily on dairy farming and, since 1959, on natural gas and oil from the South Taranaki Bight. Today we did multiple errands and shopped for groceries. I'm perpetually happy in the produce section.
Then we walked to Pukekura Park, 120 acres of splendid gardens, trails, waterfalls, streams, and ponds. Passed this beautifully sited house on a corner as we approached the park.
It feels like the land that time forgot.
I spy the Tea House and you know what that means.
Thirsty walkers' reward
Kauri are among the world's mightiest trees, growing to over 50 m tall, with trunk girths up to 16 m, and living for over 2,000 years.
For Māori, the tallest trees in the forest traditionally had chiefly status. In the north of New Zealand, kauri held the highest rank. This is reflected in sayings such as, ‘kua hinga te kauri o te wao nui a Tāne’ (the kauri has fallen in the sacred forest of Tāne) – repeated whenever a great person dies.
The Queen in her Land Rover (light rain today's).
Way past time for lunch. Social Kitchen is a hot commodity and booked solid for tonight, but there are benefits to arriving at the unfashionable hour of 4:30. We're seated immediately, the vaguely concerned waiter advising us we'd need to be finished with our meal by 7:15, which made me laugh. Here's the semi-outdoor Lubrication area.
And the dining room. It's all about good meat here, with large mains and sides to share.
(Vegetarians will avert their eyes)
I'll have to step up my margarita game after this beauty, with a charcoal salt rim. It sounds precious, but it was good (charcoal salt? is that a thing now?).
Ribs and potatoes fried in duck fat. No words for how delicious.
On the return walk, Chaos Coffee.
Under-the-road path to the Coastal Walkway.