The morning I woke up in Whanganui, Cally and the other girl at the hostel surprised me by singing, “Happy Birthday” to me from their beds. It was my 25th birthday and couldn’t have been better!
After breakfast, Cally and I drove to Mount Egmont, which is more commonly known as Mount Taranaki. This dormant volcano looks amazing, but we couldn’t see it very well due to the rain clouds. The snow capped volcano stands alone surrounded by fairly flat pastures. We could catch glimpses of it through the clouds. We drove up to the base of Mount Taranaki and then made the ten-minute hike to the 18-meter high Dawson’s Waterfall. It was crisply cool outside and raining lightly, making it a pleasant hike. I wish we had time to do more hikes but we wanted to do some sightseeing in the town of New Plymouth that day as well.
Next we drove to New Plymouth where we rented bikes and biked along the Coastal Pathway. We biked about 7 kilometers to Te Rawa Rawa Bridge across the Waiwhakaiho River. The bridge is notable by it’s framed view of Mount Taranaki, but it was too cloudy that day. Nonetheless, the scenery was lovely. First we were cycling next to the ocean and then we were among rolling green hills with the ocean in the background. Shortly after biking across the bridge, we biked back to New Plymouth, since it looked like a rain storm was coming.
After our bike ride, we made the drive to Waitomo Caves. It became dark early, so we drove to our next hostel in the dark. The road was extremely curvy. The night sky was amazing. It was one of the few times I’ve been able to see the Milky Way. Our hostel was only 2 km away from the caves. For this reason, there were not many places to eat nearby. Fortunately, we found one restaurant near the caves that let us in right before closing. My birthday dinner was a warm bowl of sweet potato soup!