I have been lucky to visit the Taranaki region several times, and each time I’ve been there, I have been pleasantly surprised. The Mount Taranaki, the region’s biggest volcano is looking a little like the Mount Fuji in the background. It is omnipresent, majestic but also threatening since it erupts approximately every 300 years. Experts are expecting another eruption in the coming decades.
Hiking enthusiasts will be delighted by the many options that the volcano offers. Pouakai Crossing is a great day hike, fairly intense, on the slopes of Mt Taranaki. The trail was created to compete with the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and frankly has nothing to be jealous of. With alpine landscapes, forests, swamps, and small mountain lakes, this trail is just as magnificent as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
New Plymouth, the region's main city, may seem plain at first glance. However, it is a very generous city with a lot to give, including its very dynamic cultural life. We highly recommend the Puke Ariki Museum and the Len Lye Art Gallery. The city centre is also a playground to many street artists, and it is very fun to discover the city through their art.
There are many festivals in New Plymouth. I was fortunate to stay there over the holiday season and enjoy the Festival of Lights. The lights set up in the Pukekura park are magical at night. If your trip is outside of this period, a wander in the park is definitely worth it. Another important festival is WOMAD (World of Music and Dance), which celebrates international music, art and dance. It lasts 3 days in March, and New Zealanders love it! If you want to give it a try, make sure to purchase your tickets in advance as it sells out quick! Another highlight of the city: its food diversity, with renowned cafes and restaurants. We always include a few recommendations inside our itineraries.
To stretch your legs, nothing better than the Coastal Walkway: a 10 km walk that can be enjoyed walking or cycling. Further north from the city centre, you can reach Fitzroy Beach. A popular beach with surfers, as well as the the Te Rewarewa bridge. If the weather is clear, make sure to bring your camera, as the bridge with the Mount Taranaki in the background is one gorgeous shot you don’t want to miss.
Rugby fans can watch a national championship game in the city’s stadium. Although small, this stadium is one great location to watch a game, since you can also enjoy the Taranaki volcano in the background.
If you have a car, make sure not to skip a visit to the Surf Highway, west of Taranaki, where the locals regularly practice this board sport. This highway even owes its name to the fact that in winter, some locals often alternate surfing on water and on snow, inside of the same day!
Further north you will find quite an unusual road: the “Forgotten World Highway”. This one is, to me, one of the most beautiful in the country. There is a twelve kilometres stretch of gravel road, this part has hardly been touched, and you are immersing yourself in the native New Zealand. For a break, make sure to stop at the village, the self-proclaimed republic of Whangamomona. Enjoy the place for lunch or even for a night, as we can book you a hotel for an unforgettable experience.
This dynamism and this quality of life certainly explain why more and more city dwellers decide to come and settle in the region, feel free to be curious and meet them. Taranaki fits very easily in an itinerary, between Tongariro and Wellington.
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