We then travelled to the city of New Plymouth, where we visited two other friends who are locals of the area. New Plymouth is located in the Taranaki Region and is known as a ‘doorway’ to the almost perfect volcanic cone, Mount Taranaki.
It was actually part of our plan to climb the iconic Mount Taranaki, however, due to unfavourable weather condition, we decided not to. Fortunately, our two local friends had some cool alternative plans.
They took us to Paritutu Rock, which takes more or less 15 minutes of walking and rock climbing to reach the peak. The top has a fantastic view of the city and, on a clear day, you can even see Mount Taranaki and Mount Ruapehu in the distance.
Just a few minutes drive from Paritutu Rock is Back Beach which has a cool sand dune for some ‘duning’ antics. Of course, we experienced running down to the beach through the sand dunes!
We also visited the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, which is the region’s home of contemporary art and the collection of kinetic artist Len Lye.
Another of New Plymouth’s best attraction is the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, which is known for its spectacular shape which resembles the bone of a whale, giving it its alternative name, ‘Whalebone Bridge’.
In the evening, we went to an amazing light show event in the park with a band that played some cool old Christmas songs.
This was the highlight of our road trip as we set out on our ultimate mission: to walk the Tongariro Crossing and see Mount Ruapehu close-up (known as Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings).
With an aching body and tired feet from the well-worth-it eight-hour Tongariro walk, we decided to stay overnight in Taupo. The next day we had a relaxing stroll around town and along Lake Taupo.
Heading towards the end of our trip, we took time to wander around Wellington, which is known for its vibrant artsy-fartsy sights, world-class cafés and restaurant culture.
Speaking of food, we went to Capital Market to have our lunch. It’s a great place if you want to taste different kinds of food from different countries.
We also had a walk along the Capital’s waterfront where you can see some eclectic artworks installed by well-known Kiwi artists.
We ended our road trip with so much joy in our hearts – it will forever be part of our happy memories as international students in New Zealand.