Taranaki is a stunning pocket of the North Island where the mountains meet the sea. Dramatic volcanic landscapes, lush rainforests and world-famous surf breaks make the region a magnet for intrepid travellers. The port city of New Plymouth will surprise you with its trendy cafes, galleries and festivals.
Things to do in Taranaki
New Plymouth is a gateway to Taranaki and a great base to explore the region. The bustling port city has plenty to offer when it comes to art and culture, including the Len Lye Centre. The gallery features a mirrored façade and showcases shape-shifting works by the famous New Zealand artist. Next door, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is a champion of contemporary art. Pukekura Park is the city’s signature green space and is filled with king ferns, camellias and rhododendrons.
Mount Taranaki towers over the region and is one of the country’s most photogenic peaks. The dormant volcano is set within Egmont National Park, where you’ll find verdant rainforests and tumbling waterfalls. The Pouakai Crossing Trail loops around the base of Mount Taranaki and immerses you in the spectacular scenery. Family-friendly options like the Mangaoraka Loop Track meander through moss-covered forests.
Surf Highway 45 stretches along the coast and takes you past some of the best beaches in New Zealand. Snap a photo with the world's biggest surfboard in Ōakura before heading to Ahu Ahu Beach. Black volcanic sand and the rust-encrusted skeleton of a coastal steamer ship give the beach a dramatic feel. Drive down to the Stent Road reef break to watch locals surf the legendary wave.
The colourful town of Opunake captures the spirit of Taranaki. Walking around the town centre, you’ll notice beautiful heritage buildings and vibrant street art. Pick up lunch at the famous fish ‘n’ chip shop before heading to the crescent-shaped beach for a swim.
Getting around Taranaki
Taranaki is located on the western side of the North Island, a 4.5-hour drive from Auckland and Wellington. New Plymouth is pedestrian-friendly and easy to get around on foot, while rental cars offer the freedom to explore Taranaki at your own pace. New Plymouth Airport is a 10-minute drive from the city.