A run and a walk in (Pukekura) Park

Trip Start Nov 06, 2009
Trip End May 28, 2011

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Shoestring backpackers

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, September 19, 2010


One of the lovely ladies who runs the Shoestring Backpackers mentioned that she was training for the Taranaki half marathon which takes place in a couple of weeks. So we got talking about running and she suggested that we go along to the 'Running clinic' with her in the morning - the local running shop organises sunday training runs in the run up to the race, much like our favourite local Jog Shop does back home. They meet at 7.30am though, and since we we'd already consumed a few glasses of wine when she told us about it, we didn't fancy our chances of getting up in time being very high. However we surprised ourselves and somehow managed to haul ourselves out of our bunks before 7 and get down to Pukekura Park.

We were allocated a group and enjoyed a well-paced 14km run around the beautiful Pukekura Park, along the backstreets of New Plymouth, through some farmland, over the stunning iconic Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, along the town's coastal walkway fringing the Tasman Sea, and back to Shoestring where we made the most of the hostel's sauna.

The guys in our group were very experienced and knew about all the races in the country, including the Waitakere half we've signed up for in 3 weeks time. They told us that's a particularly tough one, with loads of really steep uphills. Suddenly I'm not looking forward to it quite so much any more...

Pukekura Park is beautiful. As the sun had finally decided to make a brief appearance, once we'd cleaned up we returned there with Matt. Named after the stream that runs through it, and set in 128 acres in the centre of New Plymouth, Pukekura Park is a gorgeous mish mash of formal botanical gardens, lawns, dells (lots of rhododendrons and azaleas), native and exotic tree and plant collections, walking trails, lakes, water features, art deco, victorian and oriental architecture (including a 'Kunming Garden' as New Plymouth is twinned with Kunming), bridges, a fernery and even a small zoo with a mini farmyard, some endangered animals (including capuchins, otters and lemurs) and an aviary of exotic birds.

We then had a last-ditch attempt at a walk around Mt Taranaki/ Egmont before leaving the area. We drove up to the excellent Visitor Centre at North Egmont but as soon as we pulled into the car park the heavens opened once again and tipped a heavy hailstorm right over us. So the closest we got to seeing the mighty mountain was on the picture postcards in the souvenir shops. Doh!

Next stop, Wanganui.
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