Currently cruising on the road out of New Plymouth. Another magic 24 hours has passed. Groundhog day.
It all began back at Hawera yesterday when Ross Cleaver, our kind host, took us for a tour of the ‚??lucky country‚?? of New Zealand.¬† Taranaki is blessed to be central to two of our strongest industries: oil and gas, and dairy farming. Ross himself was a supplier to Fonterra, by far our biggest entity in Aotearoa and the biggest dairy exporter in the world. We saw Fonterra‚??s mammoth Whareroa processing plant and the lactose plant in Kapuni.
Taranaki is also the sole place in New Zealand where oil and gas is produced. So we checked out the Kapuni gas treatment plant and the massive newly commissioned Kupe production station. The Kupe outfit in particular is serious stuff ‚?? a massive investment into supplying gas to meet NZ‚??s long term energy requirements. The job of sinking billions of dollars into a gas project before any return is generated makes it easier for all of us to heat our showers, and in my view this type of entrepreneurialism not celebrated enough.¬† It is just a shame that there are not more kiwi‚??s behind this kind of project.
After our tiki tour we headed through to New Plymouth to play at the number one golf course in the ‚??Naki, Ngamotu. Along our travels this year Ngamotu has been a crowd favourite when ‚??that conversation‚?? invariably pops up about what someone‚??s top rated course is.¬† It normally goes something like this ‚?? and I quote ‚??they have this par three at Ngamotu which is just spectacular.¬† You hit towards the ocean and you may need anything between a 3 iron on a windy day or a sand wedge when it‚??s calm‚?Ě. So when we made it around to the 14th (we started on 10) the wee hole had a mighty reputation to live up to. ¬†And it did not disappoint, definitely one of the finest and most memorable short holes in the land. Always made the more enjoyable with a regulation par. Ngamotu has the makings of a very very fine traditional golf course. It is lined with Pohutakawa trees that proved successful ball stoppers. The greens are slick, with subtle undulations ‚?? a pleasant change from the schizophrenic greens of many newly designed courses. The bunkering is very distinctive, with some deep faced bunkering filled with menacing black sand. Most of the course is tree-lined but three holes stand out for me along the ocean ‚?? 13 thru 15 ‚??which are very much exposed to the elements and also enjoy a special view across the Tasman.¬† Both 13 and 15 are risk reward par 4‚??s where taking the driver may leave you with anywhere between 3 and 7! We discussed the course at length after the round with one of our hosts, John Pitman, who is about the start working through the initial stages of a course development plan.¬† No doubt John and colleagues will consider using more extensive bunkering both on the fairways (there are currently no fairway bunkers) and around the greens.¬† I look forward to having another hit at Ngamotu next year and hope we can catch it in its true elements with the wind up!¬†
We were joined today on the golf course by Monica and Pato, two friends of ours from uni days who are now living in Auckland. Pato and I teamed up to take out the four-ball match 2up, despite some spectacular play from Monica who hit the ball very well and definitely had the best swing out of the four of us! Scores for the day were M- 82(34 points) and J - 87 (30points) so I had the fortune of watching JP chow down a couple of dry weetbix after the round. Good stuff.
We were kindly hosted last evening by the Pitman‚??s for a great barby, and a good night‚??s sleep before the long drive up to Hamilton. Another night of great conversation and kiwi hospitality and a huge thanks to Alison, John and Monica for having us.
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