Art Food Life with us Trail Travel

Festival season is here!

Wow life has been hectic since I last posted two months ago, way way too long! When I came back on I noticed a post I began in November and left in draft because I didn’t get it finished.

So I figure I’m going to start with this partial post and then catch up,  because I wrote at the beginning of festival season here in New Plymouth and we are about to head into the last festival in a few weeks. I’d hate for anyone to miss out on all the fun to be had in our gorgeous region at this time of year.

…..It’s the beginning of November and Taranaki’s festival season is upon us – I’m getting excited already! Tour buses line the streets, flights into New Plymouth are booked solid ( no wonder we are headed for a 20 million dollar airport upgrade) and there’s a hussle and bustle about the place that will wax and wane throughout the coming months until the climax with WOMAD next March.

If ever there’s a time to spend enjoying Lonely Planet’s second best region in the world, it’s now! I continue to be ever grateful this is the place we  call home. It’s the time I would encourage travellers to visit the Naki to see for themselves why we love it here so much. Most however will miss us. With just a short stop in NZ while they visit Australia, they’ll fly into  Auckland airport,  head down the  State Highway to Rotorua and Taupo then on through the Desert Road to Wellington – missing us over on the West Coast totally.Those in the know however come in their droves.

I began festival season with the newly organised Arts Fest South Taranaki organised by a colleague and the creative journaling workshops  on offer at all our libraries. I’ve made a few false starts at this pastime but not quite grasped it. I tried a number of times to keep a diary but after a week, or two if I tried hard, I’d get bored or busy and 9 months would go by before I’d remember it tucked away in a drawer. Evidently creative journaling is more about grabbing a gluestick and scissors and artfully expressing your emotional feelings rather than documenting what you ate for breakfast or who you argued with that day.I guess in a way, that’s what I’m trying to do electronically with this blog – expressing how I feel about things and adding photographs to illustrate it – ….a revelation of sorts!

At the end of the week I moved on to the Taranaki Garden Festival and the  Oakura Arts Trail.  Held over 9 days I only had 2 weekends to cram in as many gardens  and art studios as possible. I decided to divide and concur. The first weekend,  I hit the arts trail and was blown away – no exaggeration! Who knew such amazing artists lived among us – most on dairy farms scattered beneath the mountain. I happily took myself off leaving Gordon behind- believe me the day would not have  resembled  any sort of fun if I’d dragged him along. (Suffice to say art trails sit in the same category for him as museums- one or two and he’s over it) I motored from farm to farm entering magical havens tucked away at the bottom of gardens surrounded by paddocks filled with grazing cows. I was spell bound at every turn – these are world class artists.

November also saw the return of the NZ Tattoo & art festival.If you’re not already here enjoying the highlights you could struggle to get here, flights are chocca full for days ahead. This is Australasia’s biggest tattoo festival and according to my son…epic!

We are very fortunate here that dynamic characters from all corners of the globe have chosen to make Taranaki home. Two such people are Heimo and Renata  Staudinger from Austria who established the multi award winning  The Sony River boutique hotel  .  They have turned this historical watering hole into a food paradise. Just a picturesque drive along Surf Highway 45 you pass through the fast growing beach resort of Oakura and the quaint village of Okato with gorgeous views of the sea on your right and Mount Taranaki towering over you on the left.I just realised I posted about their Christmasmarkt .Well we ventured out for a traditional Schnitzel night, then they held a fantastic Summer festival. Harvest festival is coming up in March – not to be missed!

We’ve now also had two food truck festivals throughout the summer. I’m attaching links as I have no photos. We missed both of these unfortunately but a friend went and he said the food was fabulous.

December is best time of the year isn’t it? For us it’s the beginning of a six week celebration as Pukekura Park comes alive for the TSB Festival of Lights. Just before Christmas the park is lit every night with a fantastic light display turning the park into a magical wonderland. Each evening bands & individual artists  perform on the Hatchery Lawn &  Poets Lawn. Hundreds of people like ants, pour on foot toward the park, picnic baskets and a bottle of wine in hand prepared to spend the evening enjoying the free music. We chose this destination many times for our evening walks.

Throughout January the Coastal Walkway rang with the hammers and chisels of local rock carvers creating sculptures that in February would go under the auctioneers  hammer.The carvers were participating in the annual carving symposium that draws thousands to watch as  amazing images rise from once blank stone.

I’ve enjoyed touring with traditional storytellers, Moira Wairama and Tony Hopkins – Soul Food Tellers, hearing traditional Maori legends and African tales of long ago and now await the world festival of music, arts and dance – WOMAD, in March. Featuring six stages and 30 hours of music over three days – there is no where else to be in the world that weekend!

Add to all this, we’ve experienced the best summer I can remember in many a long year. Temperatures have soared so that I’ve sneaked over to my neighbours pool for a quiet dip more times than in the 15 summers I’ve known them. Like the iconic TV ad I’ve often had my nose plastered to the fence calling out ‘Hey Mister what’s your pool doing later”. Watch the Youtube clip it’s so KIWI.

I’m off to find pictures to go with this post. I hope I have some because I’ve been so wrapped up in the fun I’ve completely forgotten about pix for the blog. So I’d suggest that you put us on your calendar for this November when we start all over again so people like you can enjoy our paradise at the bottom of the world.


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