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Friday, February 12, 2016

New Zealand's Open Air Live Sculpture Event


New Plymouth’s 11k (~ 6 miles) Coastal Walkway
is inviting by design for both cyclists and walkers.
New Plymouth’s visionary Len Lye Centre (click here for that) was the nice surprise that landed us in the town, rather than bypassing it on our way to South Island.  Once there, New Plymouth’s award-winning Coastal Walkway looked like a better alternative for stretching our legs than the overcast skies over Mt Taranaki.

An extra bonus?








Passerby in New Plymouth stop in fascination to observe
this true open-air sculpture “studio.”

Couple sculptors move their work-in-process.
Our walk coincided with the every other year open-air Tekupenga sculpture auction.  Stone sculptors complete their creations in front of the public over a 6-week period in a section along the 11k Coastal Walkway.  At the end of 6 weeks, the sculptures are auctioned off.

Jennifer Corio – wouldn’t that be awesome if Vancouver Washington could pull that off?

A friend from Whangarei commented when we told him about our time in New Plymouth, “New Plymouth’s known for being a little… backward.”  Dunno.  The bit we saw struck me as being a bit forward thinking, especially for their innovative approaches to attracting tourists to their tiny town.


The dust flies as this sculptor in New Plymouth
does some serious grinding.

Sculptor smoothing his creation.

Sculptor assuming his unique work position in New Plymouth.
Leaving New Plymouth, we noticed a bit of blue sky peeking out around Mt. Taranaki's snow-dusted volcanic cone.  Undoubtedly there’s some climatic quirk that explains late afternoon clearing on an otherwise leaden day – at least I’d like to think it’s not just some malicious plot to mess with fair-weather tourists itching for a good long day track with a spectacular territorial view.  Maori myths claim when Taranaki conceals himslef in rainclouds he's crying for his love, the beautiful Pihanga, lost to Tongariro.


Lest you get the impression New Plymouth takes itself too seriously,
this mural’s weird whimsy will quickly divest you of that notion.
We drove up in time to catch a brief gander of Mt. Taranaki’s excellent and well-sited for the view Department of Conservation (DoC) park office. The DoC office closed at 4:30.  That gave us enough time to walk to some nearby lookout points and still make it back to our campsite with dinner done before dark. 

For visitors who love the great outdoors, New Zealand’s greatest treasures are its parks. New Plymouth may not be the main event in a New Zealand visit but offers from decent highlights if you’re passing through North Island’s Western side, though nearby Mt. Taranaki’s Egmont National Park is certainly worth a stop if your aim’s for enjoying the great outdoors.

 While New Plymouth was a nice diversion, Mt. Taranaki was enough to whet our appetite for spending more time there, preferably in more welcoming weather. 


Sadly, embarking on one of New Zealand’s multi-day park “Great Walks” isn’t likely to happen before we set sail, as there are so many other marvelous spots we also want to see before we leave.  It’s a nice problem.

Towering at 2518 meters (8261 feet), Mt. Taranaki in one of those rare moments it wasn’t bashfully hiding behind clouds. 
Technically still an active volcano, Mt. Taranaki's last eruption was in the mid 1800s.

Location Location
This blog post was written about New Plymouth New Zealand, which we visited early on in our 28-day New Zealand North to South Island and back road trip.  New Zealand is roughly 1,500 miles long, and our road trip left from North Island's Northland, and went to Bluff, New Zealand's Southmost mainland point.  


We returned to our boat in Whangarei Town Basin Marina, North Island, (S35.43.474 E174.19.599) February 7th, 2016 and are readying a few weeks of serious boat work in Riverside Marina, starting February 15, 2016.

Sailing by the Numbers
Last year, between December 2014 and November 2015 we sailed from Florida USA to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles (visiting USA, Cuba, Colombia, Panama, Galapagos [Ecuador], French Polynesia, Cook Islands, American Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand).  We will resume serious cruising when cyclone season ends in ~April 2016.  We have not yet decided whether to sail to Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu then Australia (~4,000 miles), or just to Australia (~1,500 miles).