Posted by: Vallere | February 21, 2011

Goblin forests, waterfalls, volcanos, beaches, and…super heros?

Saturday was a super busy day! We slept in (well, we tried to…Ceirdwyn has this annoying habit of waking up at 7am on the nose, happy as a lark and ready to play), had breakfast, and drove into town to run a few errands. We are now the proud owners of a microwave and a printer (we were in serious withdrawal) and a good amount of raw milk and yoghurt, fresh veggies and fruits from the market, and some much needed groceries. After we swung back by the house to drop off the food, we piled back in the car and took off in the direction of Mount Taranaki. It was a very overcast day, so we weren’t sure if we would be able to see it or not, but we wanted to make the trip anyway.

Along the way we saw a sign for Dawson Falls. We had no idea what that was, but it sounded interesting, so we turned off and drove down a very narrow one lane road until we reached a walking path. As soon as we started walking down the path, it was like entering another world. The signs at the visitor center called it a “goblin forest” and I can’t think of a more apt description. It was dark in the underbrush, and the trees were all twisted and moss covered. The pathway twisted down, down, down, and then everything opened up and suddenly you were at the foot of a beautiful waterfall!

When we came out the far end of the loop trail, we walked a bit further to get to the visitor’s center (which was closed, at 4pm on a Saturday, because that’s how they roll in New Zealand) and saw a really interesting  Maori carving out front.

There was an observation platform at the visitor’s center as well, but this was all you could see of Taranaki at the time…we were almost in the clouds. It was surreal!

We decided that since seeing the volcano was a bust, we should at least take in the beach. So after leaving the park, we began our drive around Surf Highway, which runs around the edge of the cape surrounding Mount Taranaki. Surf Highway is dotted with tiny towns every few kilometers. It was nearing supper time and we wanted to find a nice place to stop and play on Surf Beach before everyone’s stomach’s took over, so we drove through one of the towns and stopped at an intersection to get our bearings.

And that’s when things got weird…

Right before our eyes, Wonder Woman ran right in front of our car. Or, at least he was DRESSED like Wonder Woman. The Doc and I looked at each other and said, “Did you see that??” Blink…blink. “Get the camera!!!” So we turned onto the street and followed Wonder WoMan (?) for a block or so, to see if we could get a good shot. The Doc raised up the camera and, just as he was about to click the picture, a white van swerved across the road and sideswiped Wonder WoMan, sending him tumbling across the sidewalk. I slammed on the breaks and we both gasped, unable to believe what we were seeing (even moreso than just not being able to believe the fact that a full grown man dressed like Wonder Woman had just happened to run right past our car at the exact same moment that we stopped at a stop sign in a tiny town that we just happened to detour through…).

Apparently the whole thing was staged, though, as Wonder WoMan jumped up and caught his breath in a storefront doorway.

We went up the street and turned around, determined to get a good shot of him. When we came back by, we missed him again, so we turned around yet again and went for pass number 3. He was now standing in the street with a water bottle and a squeegee, running down cars and washing their windshields.

He hailed us as we passed, and so we stopped for him. “You’ve been past here three times!”

“Yes, we wanted a picture of you!”

“Well, may I wash your window?”


We asked if he was taking donations or anything and he said, “Nope, those blokes (pointing to the group of guys who had hopped out of the van that sideswiped him who were now laughing and jeering) bet me I wouldn’t wash five…you guys are my fifth!”

And that’s how we met Wonder WoMan.

To make things even better, we caught a glimpse of the tip top of Mount Taranaki as we left the town. Just peeking through the clouds…

We saw some interesting rock formations out in the ocean up ahead, and decided that was where we wanted to turn off to get to the beach. We parked and turned the kids loose onto another terribly ugly New Zealand beach…

The kids were miserable and had no fun at all

It was completely devoid of life…

Don't worry...he was alive. Just waiting for the tide to come back in!

The beach was so crowded that you couldn’t move without stepping on someone…

Needless to say, we WON’T be going back there again! 😉

We continued on our drive, headed to New Plymouth for supper. On the way, the clouds parted and we got an amazing view of Mount Taranaki rising up behind a smaller mountain.

And after supper at a Mongolian Grill – which was delicious in spite of the fact that the boys were fantastically wild the whole time – we saw Mount Taranaki by night…just stunning!

We arrived home just before midnight and everyone flopped into bed. Two volcanos in as many weeks, glorious forests, waterfalls and superheros…New Zealand continues to amaze!



  1. My envy has reached dangerous levels. Glad you guys are having such a good time. You deserve it!

  2. You guys are having WAY too much fun! Love Wonder WoMan, that’s awesome!

  3. I LOVE twisty paths that lead to waterfalls! WOW I’m so glad you chose to venture down that one!!! What an experience!

    Wonder WoMAN!!!! 🙂 Its nice to see people having fun!

    That volcano is HUGE! Your weekends are fabulous. Glad you are getting what you wanted from your trip to NZ!!!!!!
    Wish I were there!!!!

  4. so your not coming home are you *wink wink*

  5. Just caught up on your adventures. How beautiful is NZ!!?? You all look so happy… love the smiles on the boys’ faces!

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