New Plymouth, NZ

This weekend, a small group of us took a bus to New Plymouth, a smallish city on the west coast of the North Island. It was a four hour bus trip one way, but getting to see the ocean was worth the long, winding drive. We stayed in a nice hostel about a 25 minute walk from town, and the whole weekend cost me next to nothing! (Hostel hopping is the way to travel!) This weekend was incredible, and I can't believe how gorgeous this area of New Zealand is! But then again, I haven't seen anything but beauty since I've been here. I'm definitely planning on going back to New Plymouth when it gets a little warmer; it's by far my favorite place I've travelled thus far. (Plus, it was a still a little bit chilly to do some of the things I wanted to do.) Here are some pictures from my weekend!
Haley took this picture without me knowing it, and I love it! I think it really captures the adventurous spirit of this journey.

These boots were NOT made for walking. They're cute and all, but I think I might need to invest in a better pair of hiking boots. We walked over 15 miles on Saturday, and I can tell that these are wearing down.
The ocean was spectacular! The weather on Saturday was perfect for us, too. It was around 65 degrees with a little bit of an ocean breeze. We were actually dressed too warm for once!

We passed by this spot on the walkway a handful of times, and a seal was always there! It was too cute! 

Paritutu Rock
Paritutu Rock is part of the remains of an old volcano. It is 153 meters high, and we climbed to the very top! We almost didn't make the climb because we wanted to make it back to the bus stop to get back into town. But, once we got to the base of the rock we decided that we should. We may never make it back to this magical place, and there's no time like the present! So, we took off, up the side of the steepest rock I've ever climbed. (I use the word "climbed" loosely.) There were stairs most of the way up, but once you reached the halfway point, it became necessary to hold onto a chain that runs to the top. 

The climb was hard, and there were a few times when I didn't know if it was going to be worth it. At times, it felt like the wind was just going to rip us off the side of the mountain and carry us all the way to Mount Taranaki! Thankfully, we made it safely to the top, and check out the view!
Pictures can never give this place the justice it deserves, but this was part of the view from the top. 

I do believe the climb to the top was worth it.
After walking all the way to rock and back, we were starving! I tried Thai food for the first time, and it was delicious! Anyone know any good Thai places in Tennessee?
We knew that we had to see the sunset from the beach, so we spent the last few hours of our day wandering up and down the coastal walkway until the sun went behind the horizon. 



This is a black sand beach just off the walkway. I'd never seen a black sand beach before! It was "sweet as!"

The islands jutting out of the water on the left side of this picture are the
same ones I saw from above on the top of Paritutu Rock.

Sunsets on the ocean are the best!
This weekend really was incredible. It's bittersweet and overwhelming, though. I know that I want to go back and visit New Plymouth again, but I also realize that there is so much more out there to see.  (And I don't just mean in New Zealand. What about America? I've only seen a fraction of our great nation.) When I was standing on the top of Paritutu Rock, I felt like I was standing on top of the world. Then, I realized that I may never see this beautiful place again, and I have to be okay with that. New Zealand in and of itself has given me the travel bug, and I just hope that someday, something I see will top the beauty that I experienced this weekend. Again, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to travel and see this amazing corner of the world. I've seen more in the past three weeks than some people will be able to see and do in a lifetime. I'm so blessed, and I constantly have to remind myself that this is real. I really am doing what I never dreamed possible, and I am living a life that not many people get the chance to live.  Traveling is something all my friends have talked about. It's something people love to do and something people wish they could do more of. God created this huge, wonderful planet filled with beauty and wonder, and I have the chance to experience some of it.  If it wasn't for Him, I wouldn't have the ability or resources to do all this. He's given me so much already, and now He's allowing me to see a small corner of His creation. I am so thankful to be here, and I pray that I never take it for granted. 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, 
and cometh down from the Father of lights, 
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
James 1:17 KJV

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