After our summit up Mount Taranaki, we decided to spend the rest of the weekend in New Plymouth to check out the area. Our first stop was the Sugar Loaf Islands, just outside the city. These 7 islands are eroded stumps of an ancient volcanic crater that are scattered along the shore next to Paritutu Rock.
As we pulled into the parking lot, we ran to the cliff to check out the beach and were amazed to find a black sandy path leading all the way to the beach below (probably 50m). We raced down the gigantic sand dune towards the crystal blue water. The waves were wrapping around the main island, crashing into each other at the centre creating a neat pattern in the water.
|Giant ~50m sand dune leading to the Sugar Loaf Islands beach|
Still exhausted from the day before, we ended up crashing on the beach for over an hour as it was so calm and relaxing. Since it was a beautiful day , after laying out in the sun we were in need of a quick swim to cool down. There was a trail up to the top of the Paritutu Rock that would have given spectacular views, but our legs (and my knee) just wasn’t having it today, so we may need to come back to do that another time.
|A rare sight – Jordan napping, and on the beach!|
With most of the day still left, after checking into our campground, we decided to head up the coast to see the infamous Three Sisters and Elephant Rock. Not knowing what to expect, we arrived to find out it was only accessible at low tide (similar to Hopewell Rocks in NB) but luck was on our side as the tide was still going out.
|The Beach went on forever!|
The beach went on for miles, and as the water exposed the sea floor, hundreds of caves were accessible, leading to us to spending almost 3 hours there. The Three Sisters were easily visible along the shoreline, but it was the Elephant Rock that really stood out.
|The Three Sisters (note that erosion has taken a beating on them over the years)|
With its tusk, legs and tail naturally carved out of the rock, even the grassy moss on its back resembled a woolly mammoth. I didn’t expect to find elephants in New Zealand but this is the closest you’re gonna get!
As we made our way down the beach, we couldn’t help but stop to explore the numerous caves along the beach.
|Beautiful caves to explore|
The turquoise cave pools were quite refreshing and the sound of the water falling from the cliffs was pretty spectacular. This may be my new favorite place in New Zealand so far!
|Love this beach!|
After a pizza from “Hell” (literally – that was the name of the pizza place), we made our way downtown towards the Festival of Lights.
|Great Pizza! Note the Devil behind Jordan|
A free annual nighttime event held every year in Pukekura Park, colorful lights are used to highlight tree crowns, ferns and other plants within the park. Light art displays are installed along the festival walking route and the waterfalls are lit in changing colors.
|Illuminated waterfalls in The Festival of Lights|
|Black Light Alley|
We were even treated to a Fleetwood Mac tribute band playing on the bandstand as we walked around the park enjoying the illuminated trees. A great way to end a fun weekend in New Plymouth!
|Fleetwood Mac Tribute Band|
Check out Episode 27 – Elephant Rock