Loved Taranaki!! A region of New Zealand slightly off the tourist track- but it so shouldn't be. I guess it is out on its own and for that reason it gets missed off but it is also 'a place like no other' and should be on more lists to see and do. Taranaki is steeped in history as we learnt at the Puke Ariki museum, gallery and information centre in New Plymouth. A huge dairy farming community brings you endless paddocks of cows and farmland nestled in between the rugged coast pounded by the Tasman Sea and the snow- topped mountain, the dormant volcano Mt Egmont/Taranaki. Great surf, walks, hikes,bike tracks and beaches make Taranki an awesome place to visit, or even stay long term as many people do including many Brits who have come back after discovering Taranaki while travelling around the country and settled here.
During our visit, we stayed with a family friend who lives in the small lovely village of Oakura just outside of New Plymouth in the heart of Taranaki. We were made so welcome and right at home. A short walk down to the end of the road and you get to Oakura the beach, an awesome huge expanse of volcanic black sand. We borrowed their mountain bikes on the second day and rode the Coastal Walkway which takes you from the Port in New Plymouth all the way to Bell Block Beach right along the coastline. It is 12.7 km one way and pretty flat so it makes for a nice meander rather than a hard hike! The coastline is beautiful. Later that afternoon we were lucky enough to try Paddle boarding- i have seen so many people doing it and wanted to try it. Heather, our friend we were staying with had a board and paddle so she took us down to one of the river mouths by the sea and we gave it a go! It was fairly easy, a lot easier than surfing! Great fun though and i will definitely be giving it another go! The river was the perfect place to try it as its so calm, maybe il try it in the sea one day and catch some surf... hmmm! That evening we had a cracking BBQ in true New Zealand style and later went for an evening stroll and took in the beautiful scenery.
|Along the Coastal Walkway|
|Can just see the mountain in the background!|
The following day consisted of a nice walk along the beach and trip up to the Mt Egmont/Taranaki visitor centre. It was a pleasant drive through native forest and taking you to an altitude of 946 meters. From here there were fantastic views to the west over New Plymouth and around. Lots of choices of walks up here from 4 minutes to 10 hours. (We did the short one this time!)
That evening we had a tasty dinner from the local Holy Guacamole caravan that sits on the sea front. the Pulled Pork Burrito was delicious!!
Our last day was spent exploring some of the other highlights of the area including the Egmont Lighthouse and a short hike up the very very steep Paritutu. Paritutu and the Sugar Loaf Islands are just off the coast of New Plymouth and are remnants of a large volcano that was active nearly two million years ago. It was so so steep but awesome views too!
That evening we took a stroll around Pukekura Park. It is a Garden of National Significance just near the heart of New Plymouth. Between 14th December and 24th January the park hosts the Festival of Lights transforming the park into a 'illuminated wonderland'. Very unique and a great evening.
Sorry to say goodbye to Taranaki but who knows we might be back!
|View of the rugged West coast on a cloudy day!|
|Steep climb up Paratutu|
|Sugar Loaf Islands|