Stratford there are plenty of things to do. Discover the town with its distinctive Glockenspiel clock and the hub for the Forgotten Highway. Stratford borders two national parks and is a gateway to Mt Taranaki, Manganui Ski Field and Dawson waterfalls. The Forgotten Highway (SH43) winding through the central spine of the North Island has a terminus in Stratford. Stratford is a great hub for walkers and outdoors enthusiasts with local heritage trails, parks to explore and rural walking trails to find.
WHAT TO DO, HIGHLIGHTS
- Walk, explore and discover hidden corners of Stratford’s outdoor heritage trail
- Enjoy a day in Egmont National Park enjoying the goblin trail
- Discover Taranaki’s Dawson waterfalls
- Spend a few moments waiting for the clock to strike in the glockenspiel tower for Romeo and Juliet to appear
- Refuel for a weekend on the Forgotten Highway 43
- Purangi Reserve where the natural world is in ascendancy, home of the Western Brown North Island kiwi
The Hidden Valley Walkway offers an easy boardwalk stroll alongside a chattering stream bed. The area is renowned for its bird calls. Take a seat and wait for resident birds to check you out. At night the boardwalk becomes a place for fairies with a glow worm grotto making its appearance. Night walks are available by organised guided events. Please enquire: firstname.lastname@example.org Grade: EASY. Time: ½ hour.
OTUNAHE SCENIC RESERVE is part of the wider protected predator free area of 13,000 hectares managed by the East Taranaki Environment Trust (ETET). The reserve at Purangi is an exciting example of what New Zealand was like before the predators with mature native forest, the Western North Island Brown kiwi with an estimated 4000 kiwi in residence. The rich biodiversity supports fernbird, bellbird, tui, kereru, New Zealand Robin, New Zealand falcon, and whitehead. Grade: Medium to High. Time: 2 ½ to 3 hours. Clothing: Ensure you have good footwear and drink.
2. STRATFORD HERITAGE WALKWAY
Includes the Clock Tower/Glockenspiel, you guessed it, the Romeo and Juliet story is repeated, every day day, at 10am, 1pm, 3pm and 7pm and you can watch a 5-minute rendition of the Shakespearian play, Romeo and Juliet. Quirky and you will not be the only visitor waiting for the clock to chime. Malone Memorial Gates and nearby parks are part of this walking trail.
3. MALONE MEMORIAL GATES
The gates are the largest gates in Aotearoa New Zealand built as a memorial for an individual soldier. They were erected in 1924 for Lieutenant Colonel W G Malone of Stratford. Born in England, migrated to New Zealand, 1879, participated in the Armed Constabulary at Opunake for two years. Became a member of the local Councils and a significant figure in local politics of the area. The statue is the work of New Plymouth sculptor Fridtjof Hanson. The statue was cast by Ross Wilson and weighs 140kg and is 2.2m high. A replica bust is on permanent display in the War Memorial Centre. Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone (1859-1915) farmer, lawyer and local politician commanded the Wellington Battalion, 11th Taranaki Rifles at Gallipoli. He created the distinctive ‘lemon squeezer’ hat adopted by the New Zealand Army. His regiment still has their charter with the town of Stratford.
4. QUEEN ELIZABETH II’s KAURI TREE
Check out the health of a tree planted by Queen Elizabeth in 1954. The Kauri is one of the world’s slowest growing trees. Here is an opportunity to view one of the world’s mighty trees. The tree grows up to 50 metres in height, with a truck girth up to 16 metres and lives for over 2,000 years. Nearby is the lone conifer tree that was planted from a seedling off Lone Pine Ridge in Gallipoli.
5. THREE BRIDGES TRAIL
Swing bridge with an upcycled length of railway line making a sturdy arch on the swing bridge. Embark an easy introduction to the town’s walk with an easy 30 minute circuit around King Edward Park, includes part of the 9 km Carrington Walkway and follows the Patea River for a short distance.
6. MCCULLOUGH RHODODENDRON DELL
Paths lead to paths McCullough Rhododendron Dell. The dell, named for rhododendron enthusiast and former parks and reserves committee chairman Ted McCullough, contains one of Taranaki’s best rhododendron collections outside Pukeiti Garden. A definite spring highlight and Taranaki Garden Festival must go.
7. CARRINGTON WALKWAY
A 9 km urban and rural trail wandering through Stratfords urban native bush with breathtaking views of Mt Taranaki. The well signposted walk begins at the historic Malone Gates and provides a choice of routes, with various track options available. Parts of the track follow farmland boundaries giving visitors a chance to view the rolling farms.
8. CARDIFF CENTENNIAL WALKWAY
The Cardiff Centennial Walkway follows the Waingongoro River, approximately 6km from Stratford. The walkway takes you through farmland as well as natural bush, providing access to points of local historical significance. A picnic area is also available for those wishing to make a day of it.
9. KING EDWARD PARK
The centrally located park is within the town centre. The well known Malone memorial is a well known landmark signifying you’ve found the right place. Within the park is the beautiful grove, McCullough Rhododendron Dell. The Dell includes a pond, selections of rhododendron hybrids, azaleas, hydrangeas and native and exotic shrubs and trees.
WINDSOR PARK, and the Thomson Arboretum are focused on native flora and fauna of New Zealand and descendants of plants on the former Gondwana continent. The classic public park has spring highlights with deep lush herbaceous borders, an open wheelchair friendly layout, scented plants, an enclosed Chinese garden, 16 types of hedging, mature trees, the model boating lake, a children’s play area and tennis courts. The enclosed Chinese garden began life as a sunken terrace with a glass roof courtesy of early benefactor Lily Lovell, a noted horticulturalist who designed the fernery in Pukekura Park. The rose garden is the largest in Taranaki and originated in 1986. Within its borders are many Bourbon, tea, rugosa and gallica roses.
10. STRATFORD SPEEDWAY
Perhaps you have visited Inglewood and the Car enthusiasts will enjoy the stock car racing at Stratford Speedway. One of Taranaki’s Action Attractions is held between October to April with over 20 night events.
- 380 metres in length
- 10 metres wide on straights
- 13 metres wide in corners
- Papa surface with lime chip and sawdust added as required
CLOSURE NOTICE FOR the PIONEER VILLAGE MUSEUM, nearby. An ethnographic outdoor museum houses, shops, a hospital, school rooms, mountain huts, a railway station and railway, as well as a church and barns.
- Taranaki Garden Festival while it is much wider than Stratford do not miss the enchanting public gardens of Stratford during your Taranaki visit.
WHERE TO TAKE THE BEST SELFIE
- Abandoned industrial dairy factory at nearby Cardiff
- Goblin forest, Kamahi Loop track
- Malone memorial entrance to King Edward Park
- HINT: The nearby Mt Taranaki is coated in snow, it is chillingly cold in winter. Beautiful long summers and orange and red autumn foliage.
WHO TURNED UP AND NAMED THE PLACE?
- The Māori name for Stratford is Whakaahurangi, meaning to look to the sky. Colonial figures have a lot to answer for with the slightly odd obsession with an English historical playwright, William Shakespeare. Streets are named after characters in his plays and the well known clock tower with its Germanic overtones has Romeo and Juliet making a regular appearance.
Stratford was originally named Stratford-on-Patea at the suggestion of William Crompton of the Taranaki Waste Lands Board, who had already unsuccessfully attempted to have Inglewood named after an English poet (Milton). Crompton commented that England ‘had a poet born at Stratford-on-Avon, and might not New Zealand produce one at Stratford-on-Patea’.1 He got his wish, eventually – Michele Leggott, New Zealand’s poet laureate in 2008–9, began life in Stratford. Source Stratford – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
- The first talking movies in the southern hemisphere were shown at the King’s Theatre in 1925. Stratford has seven war memorials; a hall of remembrance at the old municipal buildings displays framed photos of all of the district’s First World War dead. Source Stratford – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand
WHAT KEEPS THE PLACE TICKING?
- Agribusiness from Fonterra to meat processing. And then there is oil and gas extraction industry
- A great location for several days exploring Egmont National Park and Whanganui National Park
Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check New Plymouth & Taranaki Region nearby attractions and events.
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