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Taranaki travel tips:

  • TaranakiTaranaki region is an ideal destination for your second trip to New Zealand, most travellers can't fit this detour into their first tight schedule, but with a little more time this region is as spectacular as any other!
  • Stop at the beautiful black sand beach at Mokau where you'll be able to catch a first glimpse of majestic Mount Taranaki
  • Three access points get you close to the perfect volcano and its 'goblin' forest
  • Surf Highway 45 will take you from one surf beach to the next, all around the mountain
  • The Forgotten World Highway 43 is a gem and who ever guessed that there's an independent republic within New Zealand...?

    Taranaki travel tips - Paritutu Rock in New Plymouth

In short: From surf to summit!

Majestic and snow-capped, Mount Taranaki watches over a region that’s all about rejuvenating adventures and refreshing experiences. It’s one of the few places where you can go snow boarding in the morning and surfing the same afternoon, followed by an evening relaxing in a restaurant with great food and wine.

According to Maori legend, Mount Taranaki once resided in the middle of the North Island alongside Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, but lost a battle for the heart of pretty Mount Pihanga and was banished to the coast. A magnificent outdoor playground and a magnet for photographers, Mount Taranaki is a powerful reminder of the area’s volcanic past. Although it erupted at least eight times over the last 6000 years, the mountain has chosen to remain dormant since 1755.

Taranaki travel tips - Pukekura Park with row boats in New Plymouth

Today, the Taranaki region offers a huge range of outdoor activities, from strolls through native forests and multi-day hikes, to river rafting, ocean surfing and winter snow sports. When it’s time for something a little less energetic, you’ll discover fascinating art trails and festivals, award-winning museums and galleries, a thriving café culture and some great local shopping.

Gardens, lakes and fountains: Pukekura Park in the city of New Plymouth is a beautiful haven at any time of the year. Established in 1876, it includes 52 hectares of formal and informal flowering gardens, towering trees and peaceful lakes with waterlilies, waterfalls and row boats.

Taranaki travel tips - Koru Pa Maori fortress near Oakura

Treasures, stories and culture: At Puke Ariki - New Plymouth’s interactive library, museum and visitor centre - you’ll discover more than 6,000 significant Maori taonga (treasures). This beautifully designed complex looks out to Len Lye's Wind Wand sculpture on the award-winning coastal walkway.

See here for hotels in Taranaki.

Source: Tourism New Zealand

Highlights of the Taranaki region

  • Taranaki travel tips - road to Mount Taranaki / Egmont

    Taranaki/Mount Egmont: Famous Mount Vesuvius in Italy has a near perfect shape for a volcano, but Taranaki is not only practically twice as high (2518 m, rising straight from sea level), it really has the perfect Mount Doom shape! A 'quick' climb to the summit seems inviting, but actually the weather changes are extreme and the mountain has caused more disasters than any other in New Zealand. However, a walk at lower levels is highly recommended, the vegetation is unique and especially attractive, as is a drive all around the mountain. The most popular access point it seems is Taranaki travel tips - Mount Egmont / Taranaki after sunriseNorth Egmont with some shorter tracks through the magic mountain bush (called 'goblin' forest, because it is full of mosses, ferns, old man's beard and other fairytale style vegetation), it also has a cafe and this is where the summit route begins. The Dawson Falls car park offers more short tracks, for example to the waterfall and to some attractive river pools. A beautifully carved Maori pou, similar to a totem pole, guards the visitor centre. East Egmont is the highest car park at nearly 1200 m, with further viewpoints and a path to the skifield.
  • New Plymouth: Set behind an attractive coastal walkway, this pretty city charms its visitors with magnificent parks and gardens. Taranaki travel tips - Waterfront and Wind Wand in New PlymouthPukekura Park is the closest to the centre and one of New Zealand's finest, with lakes, gorgeous vegetation and its Festival of Lights during summer. The fascinating and free regional museum Puke Ariki sits between the waterfront and the city centre. You'll also love the 45 m tall Wind Wand by artist Len Lye along the coastal walkway. The Len Lye Centre is a must stop, if only to explore its amazing mirrored facade and reflections within, just a short stroll away from Puke Ariki. Paritutu Rock is the best lookout point around, one of the steepest short climbs in New Zealand and not for the faint-hearted, but quite unforgettable! At the eastern end of the coastal walkway you can adore the wonderful Te Rewa Rewa bridge, which resembles a white whale skeleton (access by car is via Lake Rotomanu).
  • Stratford: East of Taranaki you'll find lots of pointers to this town's connection with Taranaki travel tips - Shakespeare in StratfordShakespeare, quite a must-visit destination for the poet's fans, with dozens of streets carrying the name of his protagonists. The Tudor style clocktower even has a 'glockenspiel' at set hours. Back towards New Plymouth is the most important access road of Mount Taranaki, the North Egmont National Park visitor centre, with some great short loop walks. Lake Mangamahoe is a reserve closer to Inglewood, one of the good spots to catch that mountain reflection in the water.
  • Driving the Surf Highway 45: As the name says you'll find lots of superb beaches on this highway, Taranaki travel tips - sign to some famous surf spots on the Surf Highway 45but equally spectacular are the views of Mount Taranaki. The Kumara Patch, Kina, Stent and Oaonui are just some of the celebrated surf spots, Oakura seeing the most development with lots of new holiday homes, while Opunake boasts lots of murals in town. On the way, you can explore the magic atmosphere of the ancient Maori fortress Koru Pa in Oakura, or visit the old Cape Egmont lighthouse. South of Mount Taranaki you can continue towards Hawera, Patea and Whanganui, or take the access road to the Dawson Falls base, back in Egmont National Park.
  • Hawera is home to the leaning tower of Taranaki, the 55 m Taranaki travel tips - leaning water tower in Hawerawater tower in the centre, which is open to the public. You'll also find one of the quirkiest and most popular private museums of New Zealand, Tawhiti Museum, with countless well-made scaled and life size diorama scenes, giving insights into early Maori and settler lives. Patea further south came to fame with the local Patea Maori club's 'Poi e' song and its accompanying feature length film from 2016. Unmissable is the Maori canoe memorial from 1933 along the highway, commemorating the original settlement of the area by chief Turi.
  • Stratford is also the starting point of the adventurous Taranaki travel tips - Whangamomona on the Forgotten World HighwayForgotten World Highway: The highway now belongs to the Manawatu region, but the locals have put up a protest and created the 'Independent Republic of Whangamomona', complete with passports, presidential elections (the first president was a goat named Bill Lee) and a Republic Day which draws the crowds. You can get your passport stamped in the 1911 Whangamomona pub. The highway leads through beautiful farmland, through a tunnel and dense bush to end in Taumaranui. The 85 metre Mount Damper Falls are worth a detour (starting at Moki Road).

The best Taranaki walks

  • New Plymouth Coastal Walkway - 10 km along the coast, highlights are Paritutu Rock, the Wind Wand, diverse art sculptures and Te Rewa Rewa bridgeTaranaki travel tips - Goblin forest on Mount Egmont / Taranaki
  • Pukekura Park & Brooklands Park - a range of walks, access from Brooklands Road, Victoria Road and Upjohn Street, New Plymouth
  • Dawson Falls Visitor Centre - a range of short walks into the 'goblin' forest, for example Dawson Falls (20 min return) or Wilkie's Pools (20 min one way), end of Manaia Road, 14 km from Kaponga
  • North Egmont National Park Visitor Centre - a range of short walks, for example the North Egmont Nature Walk (15 min), Egmont Road
  • Pouakai Circuit - circular walk near the Taranaki Summit (2-3 days, 23.4 km), from Egmont National Park Visitor Centre
  • Mt Taranaki Summit Track - spectacular but also dangerous walk due to very quick weather changes with fog, hail and gusts (8-12 h, 14 km), from Egmont National Park Visitor Centre
  • Taranaki travel tips - one of the Wilkie's Pools on Mount Egmont / TaranakiEast Egmont Kamahi Loop Track (30 min return), end of Pembroke Road
  • Opunake Walkway - coastal walk (up to 7 km, 3-4 hours one way), starting at Opunake Lake
  • York Road Loop Track - along old railway tracks (3 h return), York Road, north of Stratford
  • The Three Sisters - rock formations and arches on the beach, only at low tide, Tongaporutu bridge south of Mokau
  • Mount Damper Falls Walk - a 74 m high waterfall, on Okau Road near State Highway 3, 59 km north of New Plymouth

The best Taranaki viewpoints

  • Taranaki travel tips - Paritutu Rock lookout is a very steep track!

    Paritutu Rock - fantastic views from a very steep rock, access from the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, west of the city centre, New Plymouth
  • Nevin’s Lookout, along the World Forgotten Highway
  • Cape Egmont Lighthouse, lighthouse itself is not accessible, end of Cape Road near Pungarehu
  • Hawera Water Tower, enquire at the i-SITE if open, Hawera

The best Taranaki museums

  • Puke Ariki Heritage, Knowledge and Information Centre - modern regional museum, Ariki Street, New Plymouth
  • Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre, Queen Street, New Plymouth
  • Taranaki travel tips - Tawhiti Museum in HaweraTaranaki Pioneer Village - open air museum, State Highway 3, Stratford
  • Tawhiti Museum and Traders & Whalers - life size and scale model dioramas, 401 Ohangai Road, Hawera
  • Mokau Museum - State Highway 3, Mokau
  • Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki, Egmont Street, Patea

Map of Taranaki

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Taranaki travel tips - Te Rewa Rewa bridge in New Plymouth

Taranaki travel tips - Pukekura Park in New Plymouth

Taranaki travel tips - Pukekura Park bench in New Plymouth

Taranaki travel tips - Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth

Taranaki travel tips - Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth

Taranaki travel tips - New Plymouth centre

Taranaki travel tips - New Plymouth oil well

Taranaki travel tips - Dawson Falls

Taranaki travel tips - Dawson Falls visitor centre

Taranaki travel tips - Mount Taranaki goblin forest

Taranaki travel tips - Mount Taranaki by night

Taranaki travel tips - Surf beach in Opunake on the Surf Highway 45

Taranaki travel tips - Waitara driftwood beach

Taranaki travel tips - Onaero Bay

Taranaki travel tips - Three Sisters beach

Taranaki travel tips - Len Lye Wind Wand in New Plymouth

Taranaki travel tips - a sculpture and the Len Lye Wind Wand in New Plymouth

Taranaki travel tips - New Plymouth

Taranaki travel tips - New Plymouth

Taranaki travel tips - Stratford clocktower

Taranaki travel tips - Pukekura Park

Taranaki travel tips - giant black tree fern (Mamaku) in Pukekura Park

Taranaki travel tips - Pukekura Park

Taranaki travel tips - Festival of Lights in Pukekura Park

Taranaki travel tips - the Three Sisters at Pongatorutu

Taranaki travel tips - camping in Mokau

Taranaki travel tips - Cape Egmont lighthouse

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