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Taranaki

Experience

Recently rated by Lonely Planet as the second best region in the world to visit (incredible, we know!!), Taranaki is on of New Zealand's seriously underrated regions. Never too crowded, host to one of our world famous National Parks (Egmont National Park) and with alpine hiking and some of the best surf in the country only an hours drive apart - what's not to get excited about!

Because it lies to the West of the North Island and takes a large detour from the main Highway between Auckland and Wellington to reach, fewer people visit Taranaki but those who do are always blown away. Mount Taranaki lies in the Egmont National Park and is considered one of the world's most symmetrical mountains (Similar to Japan's Mount Fuji), and hold some incredible hiking, sightseeing, waterfalls and mountaineering for the outdoor enthusiast. 

Surf Highway 45 is sandwiched between the Mountain and the coast and is aptly named for it's dozens of extraordinary surf beaches that provide 180 degrees of ocean swells and wind protection. There are less than 80,000 people living in the region and with nearly 80% of them living in the main town (New Plymouth), it is easy to feel like you are the only people around at times.

  • 1 Egmont National park
  • 2 Mount Taranaki
  • 3 New Plymouth
  • 4 Surf Highway 45
  • 5 White Cliffs Walkway
  • 6 Art and History
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Egmont National park

Egmont National Park is one of the 13 world famous New Zealand National Parks, it surrounds and encompasses Mount Taranaki and hosts an incredibly diverse range of environments, from lush rainforest, to alpine scrub, tussock, alpine rock and snow, waterfalls, rivers, lakes and tarns. This pristine National Park really has it all despite being our second smallest National Park at 335 square kilometres, although thanks to its size and the fact you can enter it from all sides it is also one of the most accessible National Parks.

Standing proud in the centre of the park at 2,518m (8,261ft) is Mount Taranaki, the mountain is enjoyed by thousands of visitors as the ultimate outdoor environment, the three most popular areas in the park are the North Egmont Face, the Pouakai Range that runs outwards from the mountain and the Dawson Falls area. North Egmont has a huge number of hiking tracks, including the summit route if you want to take on the moderately challenging summit hike or is a good place to start the 4-5 day round the mountain circuit. If you are attempting any challenging or overnight hikes it's best to register your intentions at the North Egmont visitor centre found in the carpark. See the North Egmont DOC page for more info.

Dawson Falls is located on the south-east face  of the mountain and there are some spectacular short walks that depart from here as well as being a part of the round the mountain circuit and offering an alternative, multi-day summit route. Two of the most remarkable hikes here are Wilkies Pools and Dawson Falls Hikes, both of which can be done in well under an hour. To plan your visit and find more in depth information check out the Dawson Falls DOC page.

The Pouakai Ranges have tracks winding all through them, however one of the most popular hikes in the Egmont National park can be found here - the Pouakai Circuit. This marvellous hike can be done in 2-3 days as a loop track, or there is also a long day walk (the Pouakai Crossing) that takes in the best parts of the hike, however you will need to arrange transport from the end of the hike. This hike is most famous for the perfectly symmetrical reflection of Mount Taranaki you will see in the Pouakai Tarns (small alpine lake) if the conditions are right and is a dream for photographers. Further information for these hikes is on the North Egmont DOC page.

There are a number of other things to do in the Park including the small Manganui Ski Area, and a number of other hikes around the base of the mountain that explore the history and natural beauty of the region. Egmont National Park is a must! Join us and explore the park as part of our North Island Pioneer tour.

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Mount Taranaki

Mount Taranaki is the second highest mountain in the North Island at 2,518m (8,261ft) and this symmetrical cone shaped volcano appears even larger as it is located right on the coast making it one of the most prominent peaks in the North Island. Taranaki is quite a young volcano and is thought to have become active around 130,000 years ago, with its last eruption sometime between 1850-1860. Now Taranaki is active but quiet, however the region has an astonishingly violent volcanic history, five times over the ages a cone the size of the current mountain has risen up and then simply collapsed sideways. This happens in nature but it is almost unheard of to have it happen so many times in one area. 

The Maori legend of how Taranaki came to be tells the following tale..

"Ruapehu, the beautiful maid, was married to Taranaki. One day, while her husband was away hunting, she was wooed and won by Tongariro. When Taranaki returned at the end of the day he surprised the guilty pair. A titanic battle ensued in which Taranaki was defeated. He retreated towards the west coast, carving out the course of the Wanganui River as he went. When he reached the coast he moved northwards to the western extremity of the North Island, where he rested. There his great weight made the shallow depression which afterwards filled with water and became Te Ngaere swamp. Taranaki, or Egmont, as Cook named him, now sits in silence looking towards his wife and his rival. In spite of her infidelity, Ruapehu still loves her husband and sighs occasionally as she remembers him, while the mist, which drifts eastward from his head, is the visible sign of Taranaki's love for her. For his part, Tongariro, who despairs of ever possessing her again, smokes and smoulders with anger. To this day travellers in the Tongariro National Park see the basin called Rua Taranaki, “the Pit of Taranaki”, which lies to the east of the Tama Saddle which was the original home of Taranaki."

Taranaki is a truly fascinating mountain, visit it as part of our North Island Pioneer tour!

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'Maori Legend of Mounts Ruapehu and Taranaki (Egmont)', from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966.
Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand
URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/1966/ruapehu-mount/page-3 (accessed 28 Jul 2018)

New Plymouth

 

This coastal city of 75,000 is the largest city in Taranaki and holds approximately two-thirds of the regions population, New Plymouth is located right on the east coast, just north of Mount Taranaki. The proximity of the city to the mountain, Egmont National Park and some fantastic surf beaches make it a perfect location to visit or base yourself out of when you visit the area.

One of the most famous attractions in the city is the Len Lye Centre/Art Gallery, there are also incredible botanical gardens, a coastal cycleway and dozens of wonderful cafes, bars and restaurants within the city. Because the region is so unpopulated and the towns are quite spread out it pays to have your own transportation when visiting Taranaki as public transport is limited, it takes around 5 hours to drive from Auckland to New Plymouth. Alternatively you can join a tour to the area to make the most of your time and explore the best the region has to offer!

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Surf Highway 45

 

Surf Highway 45 is a 105km stretch of road between New Plymouth and Hawera that is follows the coast as it wraps around 180 degrees of coastline uniquely formed thanks to the lower slopes of Mount Taranaki pushing into the sea. This, combined with a consistent west coast swell means that surfers can choose from a wide range of beaches, swell direction and wind protection on any given day. If you are visiting New Zealand for surf this is a must visit destination!

Some of the popular breaks along the highway include Fitzroy Beach, Stent Road, the Kumura Patch among others, there are also plenty of places to stay such as Oakura, Pungarehu and Opunake. Aside from surf there are some other great attractions along the coast on the off chance there are limited options for surfing - hiking trails, rivers, lakes, shipwrecks and plenty of cool little townships worth a visit. There are buses that run along the Highway between New Plymouth and Harewa but it can pay to have your own vehicle if you want complete freedom!

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White Cliffs Walkway

 

The White Cliffs Walkway is a remarkable coastal trail about half an hours drive north of New Plymouth, this trail follows towering white cliffs, winds through native forest and offers breath-taking views across the Tasman Sea and the wild west coast of Taranaki.

There are three options when doing the trail:

• Pukearuhe to Wai Pinago Stream: Takes approximately 3-4 hours (6.5km) - Low tide only!

• Pukearhue to Mount Messenger: Takes approximately 6-7 hours (11km)

• Pukearhue to the Stock Tunnel: Takes approximately 3-4 hours one way (11km) - most people do this as a return walk.

Please be aware that some of the tracks cross private land and can be closed at certain times of year for the lambing season. Visit the DOC webpage to plan your walk.

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Art and History

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