Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Last weekend, 19-21 January 2013, Elder Farnes and I drove the 6-hour trip across the North Island to visit another missionary couple, Elder & Sister Hirschi from Brigham City, Utah, because they wanted me to do a fireside Sunday evening about my conversion to the Church.  We couldn't have had a nicer weekend; the Hirschis are great hosts and showed us so many beautiful sites in and around New Plymouth.  Of course,  I want to share them with you, so here we go:

LAKE MANGAMAHOE was our first stop, where we got to see the beautiful black swans, New Zealand's largest wetland bird, with their newly-hatched babies, called cygnets.

Beautiful view down the river
MOUNT TARANKI in the far distance is visible from everywhere in New Plymouth...has a dormant volcano, which Sister Hirschi calls "Shake & Bake" because she fears it's going to go off every time they get an earthquake...which is often, but they're slight ones so far!

Heavy New Zealand "bush" surrounds the lake, incredible place to soak  up the beauty...and the weather and temperature were perfect.

Ferns are abundant in New Zealand, and the tightly coiled new fronds (koru in Maori) are a popular motif here.

Almost to the end of the season for the Pohutukawa tree, but their red blooms are just so striking.  This tree is also known as the New Zealand Christmas tree.

Lots of happy ducks in this beautiful paradise.

This is a modern-day bridge, the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, that is part of the 10km Coastal Walkway in Taranki.

Its shape looked like a whale ribcage to me!

You can see Mount Taranki in the background and also get a better idea of the size of this bridge used by bikers, walkers, and skaters.

Then a trip down to the shoreline of the Tasman Sea,
where there were so many picture-musts.


Pathways to the islands when it's low tide.

Colorful birds
(if this is a seagull, then there are lots of different kinds)

When early evening came, we visited Pukekura Park in Taranki, where we planned to watch the "Festival of Lights" that occurs for about six weeks every year.

Look at these walkways!  We felt like we were in the Garden of Eden!

Here's Sister & Elder Hirschi, greeting you from one of the many bridges in Pukekura Park.

Many colorful flowers dot the edges of all the ponds.

And look at this tree...incredible!

Yep, here's Elder & Sister Farnes in front of one of the enchanting waterfalls.

Another lush, green panorama!
When it got dark, lights came on all over the trees, boats, overpasses, etc.  Lots of families and couples were strolling around during this perfect evening enjoying the serenity and beauty of this Festival of Lights.  This is "The Poet's Bridge" with its Chinese lanterns.

Colorful fountain, hard to capture with my camera

The next day, after our Church meetings, we returned to Pukekura Park to stroll through their Fern Gardens, which seemed to feature every color of flower you could possible imagine.  Here's a few of the beauties.

These "flowers" looked like green spiders to me.  So many amazing shapes, sizes, and colors.  The flora here love the New Zealand climate. 

And, of course, with the flowers were also pretty little ponds to add to the ambiance of this beautiful park.

Elder & Sister Farnes

Sister & Elder Hirschi

This was the sunset as seen from the Hirschi's home Sunday evening...see moon in the sky, too!
On Monday, prior to heading home, the Hirschis took us on one more site-seeing trip through the countryside of Taranaki.  Here's some of the interesting things we captured with our cameras.  Sister Hirschi and I both like to take pictures; and, fortunately, we both have very patient husbands. 

Look at this tunnel!
And we drove through it...
I honestly thought we were going to scrape the sides of our car.
Fortunately, no one was coming the opposite way!

Old sheep-shearers' cabin

Lush, green countryside

Another view of
Mt. Taranaki

Wild boar hunting is popular in New Zealand; here are two hides we saw on a fence, hanging out to dry... with LOTS of flies enjoying the feast.

Coastal view in Urenui along Tasman Sea

"Bearded" trees... 

Up-close view of "beards"
Owae-Whai-Tara Marae in Taranaki

Marble "tiki" honoring one of the prominent Maori leaders in the area, Ta Maui Pomare

Pillar of welcome, Hari Mai, with 4 different languages on it.

I'm afraid that some of you readers, maybe a lot of you, think we spend a lot of our time sight-seeing.  We honestly don't, but when we do, it's fun to share the sites with you. Most of our weeks are spent doing missionary things that we often can't really share on a blog because of privacy issues.  Our days are filled meeting with less-actives and non-members, teaching missionary discussions, attending district and zone meetings, helping with the Addiction Recovery Program, doing community service at the Habitat for Humanity Restore, inspecting missionary flats, obtaining new missionary flats, Sunday meetings, and on and on, not to mention our personal study time.  Serving a mission is a great experience, but it is NOT a vacation.  That being said, New Zealand is such a gorgeous country that we cannot keep its beauty all to ourselves.  Arohanui to all of you...Elder & Sister Farnes.