“Like no udder” read the tagline outside a small town on the way up to New Plymouth. We drove almost 5 hours north of Wellington for a family Christmas/wedding/New Year’s celebration. The town we were passing through is called Bulls. And they make cow jokes on the regular. And they also serve the best turkish food at Jabies Doner Kebab restaurant. So every trip up north, we stop. And I see a new sign: Recyca-bull, unbelieva-bull. I could go on.
We arrived on Christmas Eve in New Plymouth and were promptly greeted by our transportation for the week, Bob the Builder:
I realize this is a picture of a picture. This little yellow ride was a box on wheels, painted green and yellow and had Bob the Builder decals on it. It was awesome! Bob supplied us fun times throughout Taranaki.
We celebrated Christmas in New Plymouth with a house full of food, gifts, and family. There were cousins, second cousins, aunties, uncles, babies, grandbabies, neighbors, in-laws, a dog, and a cat. I ate Christmas pudding for the first time. Then discovered perhaps I should chill out on all the dairy and sweets. Worst timing ever. I also brought a bit of home with me and made my mom’s signature rumballs.
Then there was a wedding. We celebrated the union in a lovely hotel called Nice. The “I” in nice looks like a tall piece of art that’s located on the waterfront and resembles a pin on a GPS or Google Maps. So as to not confuse the name with the fifth most populous city in France: Nice. I haven’t been to weddings in a long time and the last few I’ve attended, I was actually in the wedding party so it was an honor to be a guest and get to enjoy it from that perspective. My favorite part was a reading from Edward Monkton’s children’s fable “A Lovely Love Story”. It features dinosaurs and one of the groom’s daughters read it aloud during the ceremony.
Among the places we visited between family gatherings were: Ozone Coffee Roasters (cold brew heaven in a surf town!), Manou’s (seaside Peruvian feel), Lush cafe, Petit Paris cafe (I met my old boss from NYC here. She’s from here!), Elixir cafe, and Art Gallery cafe. This is where I learned that coffee can also be used as a verb. For example, “We went coffeeing all up and down New Plymouth”. Mind you, there was one other really neat cafe we wanted to visit and they were closed for the holiday.
We walked the Coastal Walkway (award-winning), Te Henui Walkway (watering holes!), Pukekura Park (the garden lights up at night and you can ride a train!) and Paritutu Rock (straight up with chains!):
Along the walkway, there were sculptors from all over the world carving into giant slabs of rock. Their pieces go on auction after the competition is over. It’s a little disturbing to hear blades and power tools during a peaceful walk on the coast but it’s really cool to see the stuff they are creating. The coast here is prime for surfers. We boogie boarded when the waves weren’t too dangerous and the water was warmer than most places we’d been. Swimming on Christmas Day is the complete opposite of my last Christmas in NYC. It stays daylight well past 9pm here too. For such a small town, there was lots to do and I could see myself visiting again even just for the surf. It was special to also spend Christmas with a family. We were the first people in the world to see the sunset on 2013 and rise on 2014. Wild! New Plymouth, Taranaki is certainly like no udder.