Time to Read: 6 Minutes
Taranaki is an up and coming tourist mecca, and for a good reason. When you find yourself in Taranaki there are so many things to see and do, it’s hard to narrow it down to the essentials while still having a great experience.
We’ve selected the top 10 things you don’t want to miss when you visit Taranaki to help solve that problem. Use this guide as a little checklist if you wish and happy exploring.
1. Egmont National Park
The Egmont National Park encompasses Taranaki’s huge volcano and offer a range of hidden gems for visitor to explore and discover. Described as New Zealand most climbed mountain, Mount Taranaki formed around 120,000 years ago and last erupted in 1775. In 1900 the Egmont National Park was formed to protect its ecosystem and the cultural significance it holds with local iwi. When exploring the Egmont National Park, you have a range of different options to choose from. If you are wanting a quick walk that’s not too difficult, the eastern slopes of the park are perfect for you. The Dawson Falls areas has a number of short walks such as the Wilkies Pools Loop Track which is an hour return. If you are wanting something a bit more adventurous, you have the Northern slopes of the park which have a variety of full day and multi day walks. The Pouakai Crossing is a must do while in Taranaki however allow for a 7-hour journey from start to finish. North Egmont is also the official start of the Summit Track however many locals start for the Stratford Plateau to cut an hour off their 8-hour hike.
2. Dawson Falls
This is the most accessible waterfall in Taranaki and it’s only a short 10-minute walk from the road. Dawson Falls is nestled in an area known as East Egmont, this 18-metre-high water fall is a must do when visiting Taranaki. The easy stroll takes you through glorious native forest that features tree trunks and branches twisting and turning around each other. Many parts of this area are known as the Goblin Forest, resembling something out of a fantasy movie with Goblins, elves and hobbits running wild on the mountain terrain.
3. The Republic of Whangamomona
Certainly off the beaten track, The Republic of Whangamomona is a key highlight when visiting Taranaki. Whangamomona declared itself a republic in 1989 after the controversial decision to change the borders making the town apart of the Manawatu-Whanganui Region. The republic is complete with president with election held biannually in the summer months. Be sure to bring your passports to ensure safe passage when entering the famous Whangamomona Hotel. The heart of the republic is a short 45-minute drive from Stratford along the Forgotten World Highway, New Zealand’s oldest heritage trail. There are many things worth stopping for along the 155km trip such as the number of Saddles which offer amazing views of the North Island volcanoes. There are also plenty of historic tunnels hand dug into the mountain side. However, be sure to check Mt Damper Falls, the North Island’s second highest waterfall if you can spare an extra 20 minutes.
4. Tawhiti Museum
Regarded as the best private museum in the country, it features thousands of life size and scale figures to help tell the history of Taranaki. What started out as a hobby, creator Nigel Ogle has transformed the old Tawhiti diary factory into a complex not to miss. His collection of exhibits takes you on a journey back in time in a fun and entertaining way. Much of the exhibits are based around the rural heritage in Taranaki which is apparent by its large collection of tractors and farm equipment of old, this makes Tawhiti Museum truly suitable for all ages. However, Tawhiti is much more than just a museum, from the original complex to the Tawhiti Bush Train rides, to the arts and crafts shop, Mr Badgers Café to the new Traders and Whalers attraction, you’re guaranteed an engaging visual experience.
5. Pukekura Park
Taranaki premier botanical garden, Pukekura Park is a much love treasured in Taranaki. Located in the heart of New Plymouth, the 52-hectare park has a range of different features that everyone can enjoy. Pukekura Park is a dream day out on its own with many stunning playgrounds and picnic spots, however, make sure you take some extra bread for the ducks. Brooklands Zoo is also situated within the park, you’ll get to meet a variety of monkeys, meerkats and other friendly farm animals. If your luck enough to be visiting in the summer months, Pukekura Park come to life at night with the annual TSB Festival of the Lights. This extravaganza of light and live entertainment makes for a magical adventure and an unforgettable experience.
6. Coastal Walkway
The award-winning Coastal Walkway span 12.7km along the New Plymouth Coastline. The walkway not alone boosts amazing view of our crystal ocean but along the way you’ll encounter many stunning pieces of artwork. The most famous being the Wind Wand which stands 45 meters in the air and was design by internationally renowned artist Len Lye. At the eastern end of the walkway you come across the iconic Te Rewa Rewa Bridge where its arching frame offers spectacular views of Mount Taranaki in the distance. The Coastal Walkway is highly recommended as on a beautiful day the views are just breath-taking.
7. Paritutu Rock
The remnants of what’s left standing from an ancient volcano nearly two million years ago. The track up begins on the northern side and is a step climb to the top, however, once achieved it will be all worth it as Paritutu Rock offers some of the best views of the New Plymouth coastline. Paritutu was once the site of Maori houses and Kumara pits in pre-european times so make sure you stop, take a breather and grasp the cultural significance of this site while enjoying the phenomenal views as you go.
8. Taranaki Pioneer Village
Young and old alike can step back in time to relive the footprints of our early pioneers. Based around the 1850 – 1950s era, Pioneer Village is a great place learn and appreciate the modern comforts we have in today’s life. With over 40 buildings, Pioneer Village is built on a 4-hectare estate with its very own Pioneer Express train taking you on a fun circuit around the model village. Taranaki Pioneer Village is arguable the best open-air museum in Taranaki and a great place to enjoy the mountain views, a family picnic or on-site café
9. Holden Museum
Tucked away in the remote hills of Taranaki, Hillsborough Holden Museum sits as a new addition to Taranaki’s every growing tourism scene. Only 10 minutes from New Plymouth, the purpose-built museum show off a private collection Australian Holden car and memorabilia. This stunning collection started over 20 years ago by Steve Fabish when he brought his first Holden, a 1972 HQ Ute. The museum is not only for automotive enthusiast, but for the entire family. With its 18-hole Bathurst themed mini putt, Hillsborough Holden Museum is a great outing for all and a must do while in the region.
10. Cape Egmont Lighthouse
On the western point of Taranaki, Cape Egmont is isolated but one of those photo-worthy spots throughout the region. It’s a good spot for a picnic while enjoying the view of the coast and another great angle to see Mount Taranaki. Built in 1881, Cape Egmont Lighthouse still flashes its white light once every eight seconds for passing ship. Unfortunately, you can’t get inside or up close to the lighthouse today however it’s still a worthy detour along Surf Highway 45.