Keen to see what all the fuss was about Raglan, I took the kids and mum on a day trip. Mid winter, not a bikini in sight and a strangely set up little town. I’m not sure what I was expecting but a view of the beach from the main centre was probably something I had anticipated. Our little silver wagon meandered around the hub trying to find the main beach and ended up on a long winding country road with spectacular views out to sea. Late afternoon sun caught cliff top hills. Lonely horses grazed, oblivious to the grand endless ocean crashing below them. A mountain seemed to hover over the ocean southward. Mount Taranaki, with it’s snowy coat hanging low was visible from 100’s of kilometres away, such was the fresh clear cloudless sky. That day we planned our trip to Taranaki.
That trip would be one of the most memorable ever with my kids and Mum. Hankering for a new subject to paint we happened across the season for rhododendron flowers. Pukekura Park was on show with hundreds of species in full bloom. Garish pinks, scarlets and sunny yellows offset against ancient enormous trees and frilly ferns. New Plymouth has come a long way in 30 years. Cool shops, the board walk, art and sculpture; but to have a strong link to the past with such an established domain is something special.

Fiesta painting by Kirsty Nixon