Explore Taranaki's best spots for surfers
With 180 degrees of ocean swells, the spectacular Surf Highway along the hemispherical coast of Taranaki is a surfer's dream.
But waves aren't the only reason to follow this touring route. Along the way, explore Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki (only a short drive inland), or browse the region's collection of galleries, and artists' studios.
Sunny climate, galleries and beautiful parks
If you're here to surf or swim, spend your day exploring the beaches around New Plymouth. Hailed as one of the best mid-city surf spots in the world, Fitzroy Beach is renowned for hollow waves, and a family-friendly swimming beach too.
On the southern edge of New Plymouth is Back Beach, which overlooks Sugar Loaf Marine Park and offers great swells on the shifting sandbanks. Or challenge yourself with boogie boarding, rolling, or simply running down the huge sand dune at the Paritutu Rock-end of Back Beach.
If you'd prefer a hike, head for Taranaki Maunga at the centre of Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki. With 13 entrances, the park offers walks for all levels and abilities, including kid-friendly options such as Goblin Forest or Wilkies Pools. For something less physical and more cultural, check out Puke Ariki Museum, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre(opens in new window) or Pukekura Park, before wandering along the Coastal Walkway with the photogenic Te Rewa Rewa bridge.
Relaxed atmosphere and family-friendly beach
Only half an hour's drive from New Plymouth, Ōakura is a small coastal town best-known among surfers and artists. Alongside Ōakura Beach, other surf spots such as Ahu Ahu, Komene Beach and the famous Kumera Patch are all within easy reach.
Access to Kumera Patch is across private land; make sure you ask the owner's permission first. Komene Beach, is also popular among learner surfers, as the waves are gentle and small at the south end. Non-surfers can enjoy a swim and bird-watching.
If you're in Ōakura during October or November, wander along the Ōakura Arts Trail(opens in new window) and explore artists' studios, jewellers, and craft workshops.
Surf beach and historic walkway
Travel around the coast to Ōpunake. Surfers will want to stop at Stent Road, just south of Warea, which has a nice right-hand wave over a shallow reef. Other nearby surf spots include Green Meadows, Arawhata Road, Dumps and Mungas.
Non-surfers can enjoy Ōpunake's small-town charm and scenic beauty. Walk the 7km Ōpunake Loop Trail(opens in new window), through beautiful lake and beach scenery. Learn more about the region with a visit to the Cape Egmont Replica Lighthouse & Museum and the historic Everybody's Theatre.
Pick up a stunning piece of local art at The Emporium on the main road, or grab some of the best fish and chips of your life and head to the beach for a picnic.
Walking trails, amazing miniature displays, and underground boat rides.
Just before the town of Manaia, you'll reach Kaupokonui Beach, another good surf spot and family-friendly beach. Manaia is home to Yarrows Bakery, a mainstay of the Taranaki food-producer scene. Pop into the bakery sale shop and grab yourself a sweet or savoury bargain. Then head over to Ohawe, the most popular beach in South Taranaki.
From here, it's another 10 minutes and you're in Hāwera, the end of your Surf Highway 45 journey. Take some time to explore the town with a visit to the iconic Hāwera Water Tower and climb the 215 stairs. Visit the awe-inspiring Tawhiti Museum and be amazed at the intricate detail of the miniature displays and the Traders and Whalers experience a hauntingly realistic underground boat ride that takes you back to 1800's Taranaki.
If you haven't yet had a chance to visit Taranaki Maunga, it's within an hour's drive. Or on your way back through to New Plymouth, detour to the Normanby Dam on the Waingongoro River to do a spot of dam dropping.