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Playing the Road Trip Edition in New Plymouth

Playing the Road Trip Edition in New Plymouth

My children were 9, 10 and 11 years old when we created the Getting Lost Game.  They were used to adventuring with us and it fitted our family perfectly at the time.  I always worried that as they got older they may not want to still play Getting Lost with me, but it turns out I didn’t need to worry at all.  My kids are now 15, 16 and 17 and happily will all still play a Getting Lost Game with me.  Turns our it is the perfect entertainment for teenagers who love cruising around in a car and listening to their favourite music - while finding new things to do.

So when I found myself in New Plymouth for 48 hours with my 15 & 16 year old and one of their friends, it was a no brainer that we’d take the Road Trip Edition out for the afternoon and see what we could explore around New Plymouth.

A few running races around the car to decide our direction, following a yellow car (harder to find when you are on the outskirts of New Plymouth!) and we found ourselves at Lake Mangamahoe.

We had no idea what Lake Mangamahoe was but we were intrigued by all the little islands dotted around the lake and the tons of swans everywhere.  

There was a glorious tree tunnel (for those of you who don’t know I’m obsessed with these!) and the whole spot just had a peaceful vibe to it.  Despite it being school holidays there were very few people and we wandered around pretty much on our own.

Now if you google Lake Mangamahoe these are not the images that you will find.  Why?  Because Lake Mangamahoe is known as the spot that you go to capture those instagram perfect pictures of Mount Taranaki.  We didn’t know that for two reasons.  1.  We didn’t find this spot by using Google.  2.  The clouds were covering Mount Taranaki so we literally had no idea that this 2,518 metre tall (second tallest mountain in the North Island) was even there.

When coming back from dropping Soph’s friend off later in the day the mountain appeared on our way home.  I asked Krystal to google (yes, we don’t always just get lost) to find where the best place to take pictures of the mountain was.  And so we found ourselves, for the second time that day back at Lake Mangamahoe.  This time it was busier - because the mountain was in view.  And we went to a totally different spot.  Up a shady tree lined track that actually really was what it said on the sign - an easy 5 minute stroll.  

And yes, we took the classic picture you see on Instagram and breathed in the majesty of it all.

Lake Mangamahoe

But here’s the thing.  If we hadn’t of got lost the first time and wandered around looking for our own meaning in where we were I think we would have lost something really special.  The sense of discovery and the chance to see things differently to just replicating the popular shots.

But back to our Getting Lost adventure.  As befits a Getting Lost adventure we found ourselves heading back the way we came, crossing over roads now familiar and heading to the unfamiliar.  It was down these unfamiliar roads that we found two things.

The first was Oakura River.  This little swimming spot is about 10 minutes out of town and has an inlet that is beautifully clear and deep and amazing for a dip on a 29 degree day like this one was.

Oakura River

The second was The Vineyard Bistro.  I have instilled by love of a good vineyard in my kids and they, like me, get excited when we see a sign for a vineyard.  Why do I love vineyards so much?  Well obviously the wine (and no, this is not on the kids lists).  But it’s the grandeur and scale that most vineyards have.  The remote locations they find themselves in.  The wonderful food.  The relaxed vibe.  And, I actually find them surprisingly good value for money.  So of course we pulled in to explore.  

The Vineyard Bistro does not disappoint.  It is perched literally on a cliff - looking out over endless west coast ocean.  I’m so used to Auckland with it’s many islands and the Coromandel on the horizon that it felt so vast to be staring into an unending ocean.  The deck wrapped around the double storied restaurant - perfect for watching the sun set.  There’s a playground (which my kids are definitely not too old to try) and a perfect winding road through the vines.  It was closed when we arrived so we jumped on the website and booked ourselves a table for later on that night - with the added bonus that we’d get to watch the sun set.

Here’s where the value equation kicks in for me…. We spent 2 hours there that night and watched the sky change before our eyes.  Out one window the never ending vista of the ocean.  On the other, the reflection of the sunset as it set around Mount Taranaki.  We had amazing meals and the kids had mocktails while I tried one of the vineyards wines.  And all of that cost us $122.  Yes, it’s not as cheap as fish and chips on the beach but for the experience and how amazing it was - I reckon it’s pretty good value.

So that was our day exploring New Plymouth with the Getting Lost Game - it helped us not only discover new places but also to find our own stories around them and give us a reason to come back again.

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