Road trips: Mt Taranaki to the coast

By: Road Trip


Road trips: Mt Taranaki to the coast Te Rewa Rewa Bridge Road trips: Mt Taranaki to the coast
Road trips: Mt Taranaki to the coast Road trips: Mt Taranaki to the coast
Road trips: Mt Taranaki to the coast Forgotten World Rail Adventures Road trips: Mt Taranaki to the coast

Take a drive from Mt Taranaki to the coast and check out these highlights.

Taranaki means ‘Gliding Peak’ in Maori. Legend has it that Taranaki lived with his volcano brothers, Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe, until he fell in love with Tongariro’s wife, Pihanga (a smaller volcano). Sentenced to exile, Taranaki glided west towards the setting sun, carving out the Whanganui River as he went. Once there, he spotted the Pouakai range and moved north, settling where he sits today.

Legendary figure Tahurangi is said to have been the first to climb to the summit, lighting a fire and claiming the land for his tribe. Taranaki Maori inhabited the base of the mountain until the 1820s, when they were massacred by Waikato invaders.

Maori are said to have looked to the summit surrounded by mist and felt the mountain was weeping. In 1770, Captain Cook reported it was the "noblest hill I have ever seen".

Today Mount Taranaki is a magnet for skiers and snowboarders, hikers and trampers. This is a region that prides itself on its surf and snow cultures, as demonstrated by the spectacular coastal drive of State Highway 45, otherwise known as the Surf Highway, which runs from New Plymouth to Hawera. Another unforgettable Taranaki highway is the Forgotten World Highway (SH43), covering the quiet backcountry between Taumarunui and Stratford.

But it’s not all highways and byways. Taranaki has plenty of hustle and bustle, and its main centre, New Plymouth, is a buzzing coastal town that plays host to some of the country’s most-loved events. Topping the list is WOMAD (World of Music and Dance), bringing hundreds of international acts to the local stage for four days of music and dance. At the other end of the spectrum, for peace and quiet, the city offers breathtaking walkways and gardens.

Whatever you choose to do, Taranaki will surprise, delight, restore and nurture you in ways you never imagined.

Local knowledge

Forgotten World Rail Adventures: providing self-driven rail cart adventures deep within the Forgotten World Highway valley, along decommissioned railway lines. This award-winning attraction leaves from Taumarunui, Whangamomona and Stratford.

Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular: an annual festival at the end of October celebrates nationally and internationally recognised gardens of historical significance and excellence.

TSB Bank Festival of Lights: this event has been previously named the country’s top cultural festival and its home base – lovely Pukekura Park also holds the premium spot in New Zealand’s version of the board game Monopoly. Mayfair move over!

Gardens of National Significance: Taranaki has more of these than any other New Zealand region, so you’re sure to be able to enjoy a quiet wander that will still bring you plenty of wonder.

Mokau River: this is whitebait capital during the season but snapper, kahawai, and gurnard can also be caught. Surfcasting is popular on the expansive ocean beach.

Three Sisters: walk to the Three Sisters from the well sign-posted Tongaporutu Domain – only at low tide.

Walk or cycle: the coastal route over spectacular Te Rewa Rewa Bridge is a beauty, and a credit to the Council that was visionary enough to commission it.

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