From Auckland to New Plymouth is about a 5 hour drive. At no point during that drive will you ever be bored. The roads twist and wind through hills and valleys, then open up to scenic beaches. The sands are a rich black color with shimmering sparkles in it.
The next day we spent the afternoon on the beach. We swam and went boogie boarding. After, we went to Pukekura Park, had some coffee drinks and watched a game of Cricket. We have no idea what was going on but it was still fun!
Later in the evening, we came back to the park for the Festival of Lights. The entire park is lit up with various colored lights and all sorts of light effects and shows. There was live music, food and drink. My camera could not capture this awesome place. You can see what we saw at www.festivaloflights.nz.