Top 10 things to do in Taranaki

Visit the Taranaki region for the full mountain-to-sea experience. Catch surf-breaks and visit art studios while catching a glimpse of Taranaki maunga.

Make sure you check out these top 10 attractions around Taranaki while you're there.

1. Visit the Taranaki Gardens

Taranaki is fierce in colour and vibrancy, so it’s no wonder the region dazzles with spectacular world-recognised gardens. The annual Taranaki Garden Festival(opens in new window) showcases more than 50 of the region's best every spring. Discover highlights such as Te Kainga MarireTūpare homesteadHollard Garden, family-fun King Edward Park in Hāwera, and Pukeiti - the rainforest garden nestled in the foothills of Taranaki Maunga. The TSB Festival of Lights is a free event held every summer, showcasing magnificently colourful light installations in the natural backdrop of the sprawling inner-city sanctuary of Pukekura Park

2. Play a round of golf

Breathtaking scenery, tree-lined fairways, a long coastline and the gaze of Taranaki Maunga make this region a stunningly scenic and thriving golf destination. See panoramic views of the North Taranaki coastline, New Plymouth city, and Taranaki Maunga at Fitzroy, or tackle Strathmore in rural Eastern Taranaki. Whatever the skills, or ambition - Taranaki has the course for you.

3. Discover the region's heritage

Explore the region’s greatest treasures and stories, learn about the geological, Māori, and pioneering past of Taranaki. Whether you’re looking to inspire creativity, engage with heritage, or connect with local people - Puke Ariki has it all - it's a museum, library, heritage site and information centre all in one. And entry is free for everyone!  

Book yourself into the guided historical walk around New Plymouth at the Puke Ariki information centre. Or take a stroll through yesteryear and experience the life of Taranaki pioneers in the 19th and 20th centuries at Pioneer Village. Further down the road in Hāwera, Tawhiti Museum and their Traders & Whalers experience offers scale models and life-size displays depicting Taranaki history, plus a train ride to showcase the region’s logging history.

4. Tempt your tastebuds

Taranaki is a foodie’s paradise of fresh, innovative, creative, and diverse options - there is no shortage of cafés, breweries, bars, specialist eateries, and high-quality restaurants. Enjoy everything from vegan meals to specialised desserts, and a plethora of delicious local produce turned into stunning dishesright around the maunga.

5. Hike the Pouākai Crossing

The Pouākai Circuit is perfect for exploring the diverse and natural beauty of Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki. The 19km, eight-hour Pouākai Crossing track is one of New Zealand's best one-day walks where you’ll get great views of Taranaki Maunga and Mt Ruapehu. The track leads through a series of untouched landscapes lush native forest, lava cliffs, and a small lake that reflects Taranaki Maunga.

6. Drive Surf Highway 45

The coast of Taranaki boasts 180 degrees of ocean swells, so you can be almost certain that the surf will be pumping somewhere along the famous highway(opens in new window). Fill the car with boards and go exploring - chances are you’ll find the perfect wave! You’ll also find cafés, craft shops, and great scenery for those not inclined to surf. 

7. Explore Sugar Loaf Islands

Just off the coast of New Plymouth are the Sugar Loaf Islands - the eroded stumps of an ancient volcanic crater. Above water you can see five majestic islands, sea stacks, and reefs. Beneath the surface, explore cliffs, canyons, boulder reefs and sand banks. Enjoy the day exploring at your own pace - hire a kayak, go snorkelling or have a go at fishing. Or hire paddle boards with Chaddy’s Charters.

8. Tour Coastal Arts Trail

Taranaki is a hub for artistic spots, follow the Coastal Arts Trail to enjoy comedy at a local theatre, museums, and art galleries. This crafty itinerary is campervan-friendly: in fact, the trail's maiden voyage was undertaken in a very special one. You can hire the world's first gallery camper from Quirky or Campers NZ.

Experience a bit of New Plymouth's creative side with a visit to the Len Lye Centre, home to the mirror rolling façade. The Len Lye centre is a contemporary art museum that showcases fascinating and whimsical work by Len Lye, a renowned New Zealand kinetic sculptor and pioneering film artist. Featuring nine exhibition spaces, a dedicated learning centre, a state-of-the –art 60-seat cinema, ever-changing art and design store, and the celebrated onsite Monica’s café, there’s always something new to see at the Govett-Brewster.

10. Walk along New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway

Check out New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway (12.7 kilometres) and cross the impressive Te Rewa Rewa bridge, which frames Taranaki Maunga. You can enjoy public art on display such as Len Lye's giant wind wand, light on land, and mothers and daughters. The coastal walkway is one of the easiest Taranaki walks and a highlight among the many free things to do in Taranaki.

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