The artsy town of New Plymouth is the only large town on the west coast of the Taranaki region. It’s little more than a village but the distinction between city, town and village is broad here in New Zealand with its tiny national population.
Len Lye Gallery
Len Lys was a post modern artist from New Zealand who is famous for his kinetic art and experiments with sound effects. While the wavy metalic exterior to the gallery is intriguing, I find the exhibit souless and dull. There is a lot of empty space and random objects that someone has called art. I’m not sure that I agree that coloured rods scattered around the gallery is art. Each to their own, though and I’m sure art aficionados love it.
It’s drizzling so there’s no point staying outdoors.Puke Ariki is a large museum that covers local and natural history. We learn about the natural history of Mt Taranaki, which developed and collapsed many times over thousands of years. The display of Maori history is respectful. I think about the stories we have heard from white people over the years about the relationships between Maori and European New Zealanders. There is much myth in the stories that Maori were not dispossessed, for the display we read at Puke Ariki clearly shows a tale of dispossession. Downstairs is a brilliant display about bugs. It’s aimed at children but we have fun there. We play a game about attracting bees to the garden and dress up in insect costumes.
The wind wand is at the end of the street visible from Puke Ariki. It’s just a big red pole with an orange light on the end that moves with the wind. I don’t even bother to take a photo.
We drive back to Oaonui, stopping at all the pretty black sand beaches along the way. For surfers, this stretch of coast is a draw card with reliable waves. Every town has at least one surf shop and the beaches are all signed from the highway.
Cape Egmont Lighthouse
The Cape Egmont Lighthouse museum is only open during the weekend and today is Wednesday. But the drive along the coast road is eerie enough to keep us interested. Eerie because the beach is strewn with massive boulders that can only have come from a violent volcanic eruption. In the wind and drizzle it feels like this could happen again any time, even though the last eruption was in the 1750s. A dilapidated house just adds to the mystery.
Accommodation: Couch Surfing hosts in Oaonui