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Taranaki regional guide

“Like no other” Taranaki travel Guide

Uncover Taranaki, a place less crowded. Discover a stunning snow capped beautiful Mount Taranaki or stroll on iron sand driftwood strewn surfing beaches. Taranaki is an amazing outdoor adventure playground with New Plymouth’s cosmopolitan vibe creating wrap around visitor attractions. Like no other Taranaki effortlessly combines places to go outdoors with cultural experiences from Len Lye striking architecture to Patea’s Southern Museum.

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What to do
Where to stay
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Aerial view on Taranaki coastline with a small river and New Plymouth and Mount Taranaki on the background. Taranaki region, New Zealand

BEST TIME TO GO

Late December to mid March for summer activities.

WEATHER

Weather in New Plymouth

The summer is between 19c – 25c. The warm season is short with cold, wet winters. It can be windy year round and partly cloudy. The coldest temperature is around 9c. It does not snow in New Plymouth.  Surfers are usually wearing wetsuits year round as the water temperature is cool. Carry layers as the weather is changeable year round.

TOP SIGHTS IN TARANAKI

  • Mount Taranaki, the symmetrical solitary beauty of the mountain framed against the sky, the pastoral landscapes and sea. Enjoy glimpses of Mount Taranaki as it emerges from the morning mist.
  • Outdoors with its lush temperate forest and bush. Magical walks evocatively named Goblin Walk or Meeting of the Three Waters.
  • Heritage trail from Maori pa sites to Art Deco gems in Hawera and Eltham from NZ Land War sites to pre-European Maori pa sites with outstanding coastal views.
Mt Taranaki at dusk, New Zealand
Mt Taranaki at dusk
Te Rewa Rewa bridge framing Mt Taranaki, New Zealand
Te Rewa Rewa bridge
  • New Plymouth coastal walkway with Te Rewa Rewa whalebone bridge architecture, passing the kinetic Wind Wand as it rotates in the breeze.
  • New Plymouth art galleries and Len Lye stunning kinetic glass exterior shimmering in the wind
  • Public gardens and parks from Pukekura Gardens in New Plymouth with its extensive walkways, lakes and playgrounds to Pukeiti rhododendron splendor or Hawera’s King Edward Park.

TOP THINGS TO DO OUTDOORS

  • Harbour cruise to SugarLoaf Reserve to view marine life and NZ fur seals with Chadder Tours. Snorkel or enjoy the views of the busy port, the coastline and the Island’s birdlife.
  • Mt Taranaki’s reflection in Lake Mangamahoe is a popular place for photographers intent on capturing an elusive perfect snapshot of the mountain. The well sign-posted circuit walk takes you on a journey around Lake Mangamahoe through production forest, up to impressive lookouts and among mature exotic trees interspersed with pockets of regenerated native bush.
Lake Mangamahoe, New Zealand @Westend61, Fotofeeling
Lake Mangamahoe @Westend61, Fotofeeling
Meeting Of The Waters & Merrilands Domain Waiwhakaiho River, New Zealand @Taranaki By Air
Meeting Of The Waters & Merrilands Domain Waiwhakaiho River @Taranaki By Air
  • Find Tongaporutu settlement, North Taranaki for fascinating rock formations. Rocks towering 25 metres from the seabed. Cliffs, sea stacks of sandstone and siltstone eroded by the pounding Tasman Sea. Three sisters have ‘lost’ a sister due to continuing erosion. Nearby are Maori petroglyphs carved on cave rock walls. The iron-sand beach is well signposted at Tongaporutu. Low tide is the best time to go. From the carpark, walk for about 500 m following the Tongaporutu River, then on the beach south of the river. The walk is approximately 20 minutes one way.
  • Meeting of the Waters Reserve walks over a suspension bridge to swimming holes. The reserve is the Department of Conservation. Picnic beside the Waiwhakaiho River and choose from two easy short walks suitable for all the family. Both walks can be accessed from the carpark. The bush flora and fauna is described with information plaques.
  • Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve, fern filled gullies, emerald green foliage and subtropical rainforest leads to a scenic waterfall on a short easy walk suitable for all fitness levels. There are sheltered spots for picnics. Although the walk is steep in parts the 2 km track is a must-do for outdoor enthusiasts. The Department of Conservation reserve does not allow dogs on the reserve. Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve walk: Walking and tramping in New Plymouth area, Taranaki region for details.
  • Egmont National Park, Goblin Walk or Kamahi Loop track is another walk suitable for all fitness levels. From Stratford it is approximately ½ hour to the start of the walk at the Dawson Falls visitor centre. The gnarly twisted tree trunks are otherworldly and the stuff of dreams. And do not let rain put you off going. Grab wet weather gear and explore. It is a fascinating walk in the misty rain with the damp and mist swirling around the forest. For more details check out the Goblin walk and Egmont National Park.
Curtis Falls Track, Dawson Water fall, Egmont national park, Taranaki
Egmont national park

Best places to visit

New Plymouth, New Zealand @bksegmontmotorlodge
New Plymouth @bksegmontmotorlodge

NEW PLYMOUTH

Take in the sight of Mount Taranaki, the rolling hills, coastline and innovative architectural styles make this small town a favourite place for art and craft buffs to visit. While the town has 74,000 permanent residents New Plymouth and the surrounding Taranaki district has the heart of an international city with its cultural events and art galleries. Less than 5% of international visitors manage to get to New Plymouth which leaves plenty of space for visitors to binge on New Plymouth’s cultural attractions. For more information about what to see and do in New Plymouth check out New Plymouth travel guide.

TARANAKI REGION

Take in the flowering magnificent rhododendrons in the spring season in PUKEITI GARDENS. The world class collection of plants is free to wander at will. Outdoors offers plenty of kid friendly activities. Let’s get the kids outside and explore some of the great Short Walks in New Plymouth & Taranaki – Best Bits. From exploring fantasy mossy glades in the Egmont National Park  to regional gems there is plenty to do and see. Uncover Egmont National Park and Mount Taranaki with over 200km of trails to wander.

TIP

What’s so great kiwi towns in Taranaki has plenty of ideas of what to do with kids.

@Oakura Village Taranaki
@Oakura Village Taranaki
Opunake, New Zealand @windows_down_photo
Opunake @windows_down_photo

BEACHES – TARANAKI

Detour down side roads to remote beaches. Fossick along driftwood beaches with their pounding surf and watch the wetsuit clad dedicated surfers challenge the elements. Enjoy Surf Highway and towns such as Oakura with its huge surfboard declaring its love for the ocean. Taranaki offers visitors ocean and river fishing. Chadder Charters will organise a fishing charter for groups or families from New Plymouth. South Taranaki has great surf casting spots where estuaries meet the sea. Follow the coast along Surf Highway for 105 km to Hawera with side roads leading to world class surf breaks. Polish your surfing skills in Oakura or Opunake beaches.

GARDENS & PARKS

Discover New Zealand’s North Island premier garden province with outstanding private and public gardens. Taranaki’s climate is ideal for one of the powerhouses of the agricultural economy, the dairy industry. This climate has additionally created beautiful private and public gardens. A showcase for Taranaki is the Taranaki Garden Festival. Glorious backyards with secret surprises, sweeping vistas of garden excellence and art studios in idyllic surroundings are open to the public for a period of ten days. The spring festival has been an annual event for over 30 years.

NOTABLE BUILDINGS - TARANAKI

GALLERIES, ART & CRAFT - TARANAKI

SHOPPING – TARANAKI

Taranaki is a shopping retail therapy destination you have probably never even considered. New Plymouth with its galleries, fascinating shops packed with collectables and fashionable wear is just the start. Get on the road, dump the surfing fraternity at the beach and hit the shops in Hawera, Eltham and…  And the list goes on. Due to the impact of covid19 it is wise to check opening hours and mourn if the shop is deceased, gone the way of many great businesses.

FESTIVALS – TARANAKI

Taranaki should be on the must-go list for festival followers with concerts in beautiful parks from King Edward Park (Hawera) to Pukekura Gardens (New Plymouth). Festivals range from celebrating spring blooms or a carnival atmosphere of the surf culture. New Plymouth locals enjoy the A & P (Agricultural and Produce) shows in the country towns. An A & P show has prize winning farm pets, home baked goodies, circus style entertainment, sheep dog trials and agricultural equipment displays. It is where town meets urban with everyone enjoying a hotdog and candy floss on a stick.

  • A classic, Hawera A & P show draws crowds from New Plymouth hankering for a touch of nostalgia
  • Arts in the Park in King Edward Park during the summer months
  • Oakura Arts Trail in October visitors are invited into studios to see artists at work. All year is a self-guided trail (see travel pack section for details).
  • Butlers Reef, (Oakura) is a stalwart in the hospitality scene and is the home to regular summer gigs. The hotel is 150 years old and has been entertaining locals forever.
  • The Opunake beach carnival complete with Miss Opunake contest is part of the summer highlights. The town boosts surf life saving champions.
@oakuraartstrail
@oakuraartstrail
Festival of Light, New Plymouth, New Zealand
Festival of Light
  • Opunake October wool festival. The place is festooned with pompoms, crochet, knitted tree covers, colourful wool products are a decorator’s vision of knitted nirvana.
  • Americarna (INGLEWOOD) showcasing American cars, especially muscle cars, attracts hundreds of showroom quality classic American cars and thousands of tourists to Taranaki every February
  • Taranaki Garden Festival showcasing the best of private and public gardens over 10 days. The veteran festival provides an opportunity to view gardens otherwise closed to visitors during the year. The festival is accompanied by live concerts in garden settings, art displays in parks and gardens throughout Taranaki
  • Festival of Light from December to February in New Plymouth is a summer festival favourite with visitors drawn to the light installations in Pukeiti Gardens, live evening entertainment, pop up food stalls and accompanying attractions in New Plymouth and elsewhere

WALKS TARANAKI

Discover numerous walking trails throughout Taranaki. Remember to carry layers even in the warm summer months with the mountain and ocean conspiring to influence sudden temperature changes during the day.

ADVENTURE

FLY A GLIDER

Learn to fly a glider. In flight, you may be moving in three dimensions simultaneously which is a bit different.  The essential thing is to build one’s judgement to successfully land the glider.  The Taranaki Gliding Club has experienced instructors who will guide you through the learning process

@Taranaki Gliding Club
@Taranaki Gliding Club
Ahu Ahu beach surfing, New Zealand @labella_travel
Ahu Ahu beach surfing @labella_travel

LEARN TO SURF

Learn, practice or show off your surfing credentials on the iron sand beach of Oakura. Vertigo Surf: Surfboards | Surfboards NZ | Surfing will hire you a board or provide a surfing lesson. Vertigo runs surf lessons for all ages and abilities year round with 4 SNZ (Surfing New Zealand)/ ISA (International Surf Association) approved surf instructors on hand. Join the fun in an authentic beach community where surfing is a way of life.

Chaddy’s Charter: Home will organise a harbour cruise to Sugar Loaf Island to view marine life. As well, Chaddy’s hires bikes, kayaks and paddleboards. Fishing trips are private charter or operating during the peak summer season.

Top Guides guided tours of Mount Taranaki and walks in Egmont National Park.

THINGS TO DO FOR FAMILIES

Explore the outdoors with Short Walks in New Plymouth & Taranaki. Consider hiring a bike to spend time at The Taranaki Cycle Park including a 1.75km closed road circuit complete with traffic lights and roundabouts. For kids who love animals Taranaki is a great place to visit several attractions with exotic and farm animals.

There are several zoos for families from the Brooklands Zoo located in Pukeiti Gardens to Pouakai Zoo, a former wildlife reserve for kids to get up close to exotic animals from lions, monkeys, ostriches and farm animals. Ashley Park with its farm animals is a favourite with a lake, dinghies to hire and swimming.

  • Pouakai Zoo, originally a wildlife sanctuary, is a zoo for exotic and native animals. There are lions, gibbons, donkeys, ostriches and a range of farm animals. Admission fees apply
  • BROOKLANDS ZOO nestled within Pukekura Gardens is home to a walk-through aviary, exotic and native animals. Admission is free.
Brooklands Zoo, New Zealand @TripAdvisor
Brooklands Zoo @TripAdvisor
Ashley Gorge Holiday Park @AshleyGorgeHolidayPark
Ashley Gorge Holiday Park @AshleyGorgeHolidayPark
  • Ashley Park offers visitors a lake for swimming and boating, aviaries and farm animals to pet and feed. There are deer, sheep, donkeys and miniature horses. Swim, play mini golf, tennis or petanque. During the season there are farm walks and the opportunity to join in seasonal activities including sheep shearing and haymaking. Victorian and Georgian antiques are for sale in our tea shop where you can enjoy lunch or morning and afternoon tea. Ashley Park is fully licensed and can cater for large groups.
  • TSB Aquatic Centre is superb with hydroslides, wave pool and various pool depths. There is a cafe, indoor spa facilities and shop.
  • South Taranaki museum and New Plymouth’s Puke Ariki Museum offer well regarded kids scavenger hunts, treasure hunts and programmes especially during the school holidays.

TIP: A great place for rainy days.

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

Taranaki is home to one of the world’s beautiful mountains, Mount Taranaki with its delicious shaped triangle of snow and bush clad sides. New Plymouth and the surrounding region is an art and culture smoresborgh of experiences topped with black sand surf beaches challenging the senses. It is no wonder Taranaki delivers a punch in the food, wine, craft beer and gin scene.

Your night in the town, perhaps at the TSB Centre for a theatre showing or a leisurely brunch in town or a road trip on the Surf Highway is a food discovery journey. From relaxing by the ocean cafes, to city donut secrets, from a Juno Gin tour to Mikes Brewery there are plenty of foodie treats and drinks to keep the energy levels up.

Uncover some of the food adventures in New Plymouth awaiting visitors to Taranaki and New Plymouth.

@Okurukuru
@Okurukuru

TOWNS – TARANAKI

WHERE TO STAY

@BeltRoadHolidayPark
@BeltRoadHolidayPark

New Plymouth has a range of accommodation choices from boutique hotels packed with personality such as Nice Hotel – Taranaki’s Only True Boutique Hotel | Nice Hotel and premium hotel chains are well represented. New Plymouth is an ideal location for a weekend getaway or an overnight stay in Taranaki as it is a natural hub for attractions and events. For longer stays consider regional towns in the area from Eltham, Hawera or communities on the Surf Highway route.

CAMPING

Taranaki offers a great camping choice from classic no frills by the beach to comfortable holiday parks. Be prepared to leave the pet at home as most places will not accept your pooch in the peak summer season. Freedom camping is allowed in Taranaki check out Camping in Taranaki for details.

GETTING AROUND

There is a domestic airport 11 km from the city centre. There is shuttle service, Scott’s Airport Shuttle, taxis and rental cars situated at the airport. As it is a regional airport some services operate only when flights are arriving and departing. Ensure you have contact details on hand to avoid delays.

Bus Service

New Plymouth Citylink buses, check Routes & timetables for up to date timetables and routes. Citylink runs several regional services to towns in Taranaki. There is an InterCity service operating between New Plymouth and major North Island centres.

The best way to get around New Plymouth and Taranaki is either by vehicle or bike. Many areas are poorly served by regional public transport.

DISTANCES

New Plymouth Stratford 51 km
New Plymouth Hawera 80 km
New Plymouth Oakura 15.8 km
New Plymouth Eltham 60.8 km
New Plymouth Inglewood 18 km
New Plymouth Bus, New Zealand @Stuff
New Plymouth Bus @Stuff

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