Taranaki. In Maori, the word ’Tara’ means mountain peak. This is appropriate given that the entire Taranaki region is taken over by Mount Taranaki. A perfectly shaped cone geography, with a snow crown. From far, Mt Taranaki exudes a silent dignity. It certainly adds to a strong first impression of Taranaki. This coastal and mountain region is located along the west side of the North Island, New Zealand. With New Plymouth being the only city hub in the Taranaki region.
There’s much to explore. Stunning nature and mountain trails. Breathtaking park and national park spots, beach destinations, and a collection of museums dedicated to the rich Maori cultural history. Let’s have a look.
Explore the beautiful Mount Taranaki through the Pouakai Crossing,
The Pouakai Crossing to the top of Mount Taranaki is considered a TOP – trail the North Island offers. This 19-km track goes through deserted landscapes of lush native woodlands, lava cliffs, mountain lakes and more. Situated approx. 30-minutes from Taranaki and 55-minutes from New Plymouth. Mt Taranaki hill-scape demands hikers to be fit. It can be super cold at the top of Mt Taranaki, even when sunny – be ready. Once you summit Mount Taranaki, the most rewarding, rare, breathtaking sceneries await.
Explore the Pouakai Circuit in the Egmont National Park
It’s one of the most breathtaking tracks you can use to explore Mount Taranaki. The trail is a multi-day adventure. Located in the Egmont National Park near Hawera. It crosses through diverse alpine forests and mountain lakes of the park. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore the beauty the park offers. If you want to get the total capture of Mt Taranaki against the stunning background (you need to hike up to the Pouakai Hut and Tarn in Egmont National Park).
Walk by the beach at the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway!
This lovely New Plymouth coastal walkway is situated approx. one hour away from Taranaki, passing Mount Taranaki. The walkway (approx.12.7 km) is wide so, you can either walk, cycle and skater- whichever gives joy. The walkway is between Bell Block to Port Taranaki, past several beach areas, and the stunning Te Rewa Rewa Bridge – it feels like a long park stroll. Many claim this walk is exceptional. The only way to find out is to visit.
Explore the Verdant beauty of Pukekura Park
This 128-acre botanical garden is one of the most beautiful botanical parks in Tanaraki. This park offers much to nature lovers, and anyone really. The Pukekura Park is found along the west coast, at the heart of New Plymouth. From stunning gardens full of exotic & native plants to lakes to spacious park space. This park is also famous for hosting the International Music Festival WOMAD. Pukekura Park -worth adding to your list of things to do in Taranaki.
Pukeiti – Explore the park of Ten thousand Rhododendrons!
This scenic park is found in the region of Taranaki, located approx. 1-hour from Taranaki. You’ll never find a park full of giant bushes of Rhododendrons anywhere else. It’s gorgeous and fascinating. Take a walk around this lush park. Kids will absolutely enjoy the colourful setting. There is even a treehouse trail to explore too. While you’re here, take the opportunity to learn about Pukeiti’s spiritual significance to the Local Tangata Whenua too –it’s insanely fascinating.
Explore the breathtaking views of the Wilkies Pools Loop Track
Want to get lost in nature? (Not literally), Then this 1.9 km track located near the Mountain Taranaki, approx. 40-minutes (plus) from Taranaki and New Plymouth awaits. The walk can get a bit uneven, so come prepared. Climb over streams, cross rivers and explore nature. It’s an exciting hike worth adding to your list of things to do in Taranaki. Feast your eyes on the beautiful mountain setting against the Goblin Forest, and chill near the lovely Wilkies pool spots.
Summit the Paritutu Rock at the Sugar Loaf Islands
Ready to experience the coastal beauty of New Plymouth, Taranaki region? The climb of the Paritutu Rock is steep and challenging. At the top of the Paritutu Rock, you’ll be rewarded the most stunning views of the Tasman Sea, the cityscape of New Plymouth and the remnants of super old and large volcanos which makes up the enchanting Sugar Loaf Islands. Back on the base of Paritutu Rock, you can explore the lovely beach area as well!
Marvel the exquisite art collections as the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre
Need some artistic inspiration? Head to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and the Len Lye Centre – located approx. one hour from Taranaki. Immerse in contemporary art collections – the art gallery is one of the top places Taranaki and North Island can offer. Check out their entire 18,000 item collection of Len Lye – the famous pioneering film artist and renowned kinetic sculptor. The exhibitions in the art gallery change once a few months, so there’s always something new to marvel at.
Enjoy jaw-dropping sceneries at the Forgotten World Highway.
This unique track stretches 148 km from Stratford to Taumaranui – passing towns and historic hotels like Whangamomona, the Moki Tunnel. You can do an optional detour to Mount Damper Falls and Lauren’s Lavender Farm. Witness enchanting landscape sceneries unfold as you journey along the trail. Roll through heavy forests, bush forests and hills. Located approx. 35 minutes from New Plymouth. Worth adding to your list of things to do in Taranaki.
Visit the Tawhiti Museum
This museum is situated approx. 40-minutes from Taranaki. It’s another famous place you visit in the Taranaki region. The key highlight of this museum is the display of life-size sculptures, depicting subjects of historical events like shipping, colonial farming, European settlement and more. Bringing life to the displays through sculptures is the aim it would seem. It’s a super unique way of presenting history. And it can be very immersive. A real treat for culture and history buffs.
Discover the Picturesque Cape Egmont Lighthouse
One of the best things about a coastal town is the lighthouse. The Cape Egmont Lighthouse is one such lone-standing structure that draws much attraction as it stands in silence looking beyond Cape Egmont, located approx.40-minutes from New Plymouth. The lighthouse offers a perfect place to get some incredible photographs, with Mt Taranaki in the background. You can easily visit the lighthouse on your way to Surf Highway 45. It’s worth reading up on its history there’s much fascination there. Worth visiting.
Visit the Three Sisters & Elephant Rock
Head to Tongaporutu Beach to visit the famous Three Sisters and the Elephant Rock. Unfortunately, the Elephant Rock has lost its trunks due to the earthquakes. Still, it’s absolutely worth a visit. Located approx. 1-hour from New Plymouth, Taranaki, this black sand beach has many caves and rock sculptures to explore. A unique rugged coastal beauty awaits. You can visit the New Plymouth Visitor Centre to find out the low tide schedule before heading to Tongaporutu Beach.
Catch the blue waves at Surf Highway 45
The Surf Highway is where you head if you are looking to capture those boisterous waves. Located approx. 40-minutes from New Plymouth – more towards the South Taranaki. Head to the Surf beach, explore the black sand beach areas, the famous Taranaki surf spots, and enjoy a good surf session in the Taranaki Coast waters. Approx. 12-minutes from the Surf Highway, you can even visit the famous Opunake Beach. Make it a day of surf and beach explorations!
Immerse in the rich Maori Culture at the Puke Ariki
If you think Museums are not your thing, think again. The Puke Ariki will absolutely change your mind. Located approx. Located just a 5-minute drive in the heart of New Plymouth, this knowledge/museum has some pretty cool things to see for visitors of all ages. From an eclectic collection of art, Maori artefacts to incredible natural relics and giant sculptures, there are well-categorized sections, making the trip around the museum fascinating and convenient. The entrance is free too. Worth exploring.
Have a day-out at the Fitzroy Beach
Located approx. 1-hour from Taranaki and just a few minutes from New Plymouth, this beach is ideal for a nice beach outing for the family. The waters are great for a lovely cooling dip, the waves are perfect for catching the waves, and many beach activities are happening all around to keep your day occupied with fun and excitement!