I’ve been to some small airports before. Usually when Ryanair has deposited me in a random Eastern European city about two countries away from where I was actually meant to be.
But New Plymouth? This was something else.
At a relaxed country pace, we casually shuffled through the hut door in single file, past the short queue of those waiting to fill our seats on the tiny dash aircraft. The luggage arrival area, where a small trolley would shortly be wheeled through carrying the handful of bags from our flight, was more of a corridor than a conveyor. I half expected a sheep to casually stroll onto the runway for a sheering.
Taranaki dubs itself as ‘a little bit out there’ and from first airport impressions, I thought they had been a bit over generous using the word little.
Having recently been voted as the 2nd best region in the world to visit by Lonely Planet, I was excited to explore but had no idea what to expect. Others awarded the accolade included The Azores and South Australia, both of which I knew well deserved their spots on the list
But Taranaki? I’d never even heard of it before.
The shuttle bus, with me as the sole passenger, meandered past lush green farm fields thanks to the wet summer. The Kiwi hospitality and banter came strong from the front seat.
I’ll admit, I had started to panic. There was a whole week here ahead of me and, being blunt, I’m not big on fields.
But over the coming days, which turned to weeks, something strange happened. Twenty days passed with a few delayed departures yet I still wasn’t in any rush to leave.
Eventually, with the arrival of my best friend from home to Auckland airport I dragged myself away to tour the remainder of the North Island. You know what it made me realise? New Plymouth is without a doubt my favourite city in Aotearoa.
But, wait, what… Did I really just write that?