Friday, October 21, 2011

Check New Plymouth Off the List

So the Rugby World Cup thing is about to end this weekend (Go the All Blacks!!) and I just realised that I still have photos from our trip to New Plymouth for the USA vs. Russia game sitting in draftland.  As this blog started as a travel blog and my Mommy will still want to know what I got up to, here's our trip in photos.

And sorry, but there is nothing food-related in this post because we went the cheapo backpacker way and mostly self-catered pizza and pasta at our hostel.

We drove up on the Thursday of the game and immediately kitted out in rugby gear. 

Gee, we're a bit wide in this photo!  Must have been the filter...

We had seats up under the overhang thankfully, since it drizzled for a while and then decided to outright rain in the second half.  Luckily it turned itself off once the game was over and we had to walk back to the bus.

There was a guy sitting near us who thought the best way to cheer on the Russians was to repeatedly yell, "Vodka, Lada, Kournikova!"  Pretty sure he was Australian.

Also, the USA captain's last name is Clever, and actually pronounced clever, not cleaver.  Either way it's funny, but "Captain Clever"?!  Come on, comic gold!  Apparently he plays in Japan, so that's why no American has ever heard of him before, but now we know!!

It's still weird to me that the US and Russia play rugby. 

The next day we had a bit of a drive around the area, and stopped to check out the big old hill thingy that sits at one end.  There's are some stairs and a path up to the top, but who does that when they're on holiday? :)

We checked out Puke Ariki and learned about the history of rugby in the Taranaki area - did you know that they've been playing it since the late 1800's?  Apparently players would ride their horse for a half-day to get to the game, play hard rugby, then ride home again.  Hard men! 

My keen sense of observation saw this shark hanging from the ceiling, decked out with an All Blacks scarf which you can barely see in this photo.  I wonder where they got it from, and what the reaction was from the person supplying it, "Yeah, we're going to need a 3-meter long scarf in All Blacks colours to go around our shark for the Rugby World Cup." 
Even the shark at Te Puki is rugged up for the rugby!
Rugby World Cup flags are everywhere! 
All the RWC decorations are kinda making it feel like Christmas, or at least how the US does Christmas - over the top and absolutely everywhere.  Even most of the tiny towns we drove through on the way up had flags and signs strung up in the stores and along the streets.  New Zealand is really putting on a good show!

We thought it would be quite romantic to take a stroll through Pukekura Park at night while they had the lights on, and it was quite amazing to see all of the plants and trees lit up in all the colours of the rainbow.  But then we realised that it was just a large outdoor make-out park for teenagers.  They were pashing around every bush, I swear. 

I don't even want to think about the electricity bill for this!
On the last day we walked down the Coastal Walkway for a bit, looking for this bridge that we absolutely had to see, only to get lost and have to ask for directions.  The walkway is fantastic though, all paved and great for bike rides or those people who like long runs, weirdos.  
Pretty coastline, plants, hills, and then bam - ugly smokestack.
We had to drive down to find the bridge, which is built to look like whale bones and is quite stunning, especially when you look down it back towards the volcanoey thing that is plonked smack in the middle of the Taranaki.  The only thing was that the grounds around it were so beatifully manicured and carefully planted that it reminded me of an American golf course, rather than the wildness of New Zealand's flora.  Oh well, you can't have it all, can you?

Looking up at Mt. Egmont from the belly of the whale.
We drove the Surf Coast highway on the way home, and we *may* have stopped at a natural gas processing station and we just *might* have gone into their visitor centre to see how they drill for gas offshore and pipe it back inland.  Yes, we are nerds, but we do work in the natural gas industry, so it's almost mandatory knowledge!

Fun fact: on the Maui Offshore Gas Platform, they have two of this quick-launch (6 seconds!) lifeboats that are completely enclosed and fall down into the water and then pop up and speed away from the burning fireball that would be the platform if these were ever needed.  Mo-om, I want to go on that ride!!

We also stopped at a few of the galleries that Taranaki is known for, and I snapped some photos of pieces that I really liked and felt I could create something similar to, but then Jonno told me I probably shouldn't coz then they would think I was trying to copy their art.  Naw man, I was just appreciating it!

Anyway, now I can check New Plymough off my list of places to go in New Zealand, mission accomplished.  Next stop - Auckland, for the Food Blogger's Conference in November!

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