It’s Sunday morning here in Auckland and the air is cool and dewy. It feels like the humid, sticky days of summer are slowly fading away and I’m welcoming the fresher temperatures with open arms, after months of sleeping with a fan blowing in my face.
We managed to squeeze in one last summer roadie last weekend to our favourite corner of the North Island, Taranaki. We camped here last April and had the most amazing long weekend surfing, so with the in-laws in town we decided to show them why we love the place so much.
We set off late afternoon on Thursday for the five hour drive and were treated to a rad lightning storm followed by some crazy pink sunsets just outside Hamilton.
Where we stayed
We left it a little bit last minute to book an Airbnb so it was slim pickings, but we did manage to find a converted shed about 5 minutes drive from Oakura beach, which ended up being the perfect home away from home.
We were greeted by the owners dog Tui when we arrived late Thursday evening. The house was rad and had an eclectic collection of cassette tapes (from Kate Bush to the Bee Gees) and piles of 90s surf mags.
When we woke up Friday morning the skies were blue and the air tasted fresh. We also had amazing views of Mount Taranaki from the top of the hill.
Day one: Oakura and New Plymouth
We took Lola down to Oakura Beach where she ran herself ragged. This was the beach where Lola spent her second birthday and she seemed pretty excited to be back here.
After a casual stroll and beach photoshoot, we drove into central New Plymouth, which apparently isn’t dog friendly but some shop owners who fell in love with Lola said it isn’t really enforced so we risked it.
We found a doozy of a coffee shop called Escape Coffee, which had a skate bowl, yoga space, surf shop and dog graffiti all over the walls.
We stocked up on food and beers for the weekend and headed back to Oakura to catch some waves. I bought some Churchill Makapuu fins a few week ago, so was super keen to try them out. They’re much comfier than my old pair, especially with fin socks, so I can stay in the water for much longer. The conditions were a bit choppy but I managed to catch a couple of waves on the boogie before retreating to the beach tent with Lola for some shade and a siesta.
That night we drove into Oakura town for dinner at Peeking Panda, an Asian fusion restaurant that looked pretty cool. The place was packed out and we hadn’t made a booking but luckily there was a table of 4 that had just cancelled so we were seated straight away. They had heaps of yummy veg options – from steamed tempura bao to five spiced tofu and dumplings. Everything we ordered was wonderfully tasty and it was only around $40pp with drinks.
We arrived home that evening to a stunning Milky Way filled sky ♡
Saturday: Coastal Walkway and Oakura
We woke once again to a glorious cloudless sky. We had been told the previous day that Escape Coffee were hosting a skate comp in the afternoon so we decided to follow the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway into the centre of town to check it out.
The walk is dog-friendly (on a leash) and you follow a promenade along the magnificent Taranaki coast, with a playground and some art installations to check out along the way.
We grabbed a tea and croissant from Petit Paris to refuel after our walk then headed over to Escape Coffee, where the road was blocked off and ramps had been set up for the local skateboarders. They also had a graffiti artist working down the side of the building.
New Plymouth has heaps of amazing graffiti all over the city…
We spent the rest of the day at Oakura in the waves. They were breaking right on the shore so not great for surfing, so Matt grabbed his homemade hand plane to do some body surfing instead. I caught some fun waves on the boogie before settling in for a snooze in the early evening sun. This. is. the. life.
That evening we had a BBQ and sat outside on the deck till the stars came out, marvelling at the Milky Way and spotting shooting stars. Some of the brightest stars in our sky were Sirius (over 8 light years away), Betelgeuse (the second-brightest star in the constellation of Orion) and Gacrux (the nearest red giant star to the Sun) – thanks to Star Chart.
Matt and his dad had a go at photographing the stars but I think we need to get ourselves a bigger lens (if anyone has any recommendations please let me know – we have a Nikon D3300).
We had a late night cheese board which came to an abrupt end when Lola stole an entire block of blue cheese when no one was looking. I managed to tackle her for it before she finished the whole thing off. She was looking pretty sheepish after cheese-gate.
Sunday: Komene Road and Okato
After Matt had baked a cake for English Mothers Day, we cruised along surf highway 45 to Komene Road for some bigger waves. The beach is pretty remote and rugged, with no facilities or lifeguards. It has incredible views of the mountain, which is a pretty spectacular backdrop when you’re in the ocean.
It was exhausting getting past the break but I caught a couple of waves that sent me flying. I also managed to whack myself in the face with my board, which was an eye watering experience. It was a scorcher of a day and the black sand heated up quickly so we had to carry the pups back to the car.
We stopped for lunch in Okato before heading home to chop some wood for the log burner and have a glass of bubbles to celebrate Mothers Day.
That evening we headed into New Plymouth for dinner at Social Kitchen. It’s a pretty meaty restaurant but it had some good veg options. The waitress encouraged us to order more share plates and we ended up with the most ridiculous amount of food, half of which we carried home in a doggy bag. Insane portions aside, the food was really delicious and the place has a good atmosphere.
Monday: New Plymouth and Mokau Beach
I woke up to the news that one of my besties from home is pregnant!! This is the second baby announcement in the past few weeks and it’s such a bittersweet feeling, being so far away from home and not being able to go through these experiences with my friends.
The morning was a little overcast and the surf forecast for Oakura wasn’t great so we decided to head in the direction of home and find some places to stop along the way.
We stopped in at Te Rewa Rewa Bridge before leaving New Plymouth, which looks like whale bones, and perfectly frames Mount Taranaki in the background.
About an hour outside of Taranaki we found a spot called Mokau Beach, a river mouth beach break which was mostly empty apart from a few locals fishing. The day was grey and chilly so I hid under a jumper and let Matt go this one alone. We walked up the beach and found a log to sit on to watch some pretty skilful surfers riding waves. We had a good view of Matt from the beach, and knowing he had an audience he played up the surf moves.
After stocking up on tea and car snacks we made the long drive home to rainy Auckland, daydreaming about moving to Taranaki…