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Taranaki Top Spot for 2017
Last month, travel authority Lonely Planet named Taranaki, on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, as the second best region in the world in their book, ‘Best of Travel 2017’. If you didn’t already have this great part of New Zealand on your road trip itinerary, maybe it is time you did. Firstly, Taranaki, with it’s main city of New Plymouth, is a perfect driving destination. It’s a comfortable and scenic drive of four and a half hours from Auckland. Driving from Wellington will take you around five hours, and can include the famous Surf Highway.
Len Lye Centre
Lonely Planet praised Taranaki for its ‘deliciously off-beat new gallery.’ That’s the Len Lye Centre, a showcase of the work of one of the most original artists of the 20th century: a pioneer film-maker, sculptor, painter and poet. The centre opened last year, adjacent to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. It is housed in a building that is a work of art in itself, designed as a contemporary interpretation of the essence of Len Lye.
The other highlight for Lonely Planet are the walks in Egmont National Park, particularly the Pouakai Crossing. This is one of New Zealand’s newest premier walks, opened in October 2015, and can be completed in a day. It includes a ‘goblin forest’, so called for its twisted, ancient trees, towering lava cliffs, and the Ahukawakawa Wetland, as well as stunning views of Mt. Taranaki.
The Tawhiti Museum in Hawera has been hailed as the best private museum in the country. Artist Nigel Ogle uses life-sized exhibits and scale models to capture the past in ultra-realistic scenes. Hawera is just an hour’s drive from New Plymouth, following the most direct route on Highway 3, or take the scenic Surf Highway 45, which will take more like an hour and a half.
TSB Festival of Lights and WOMAD
Summer is a great time to visit Taranaki. The best months of the year to walk the Pouakai Crossing is December to April, for starters. Or, can get out of town and enjoy some camping near the black sand beaches. There’s Oakura, which is only a short drive from New Plymouth, or stay at the busy beach-side campground at Opunake, about 50 minutes drive time away. There’s also a programme of fantastic events. Head to Pukekura Park, a fantastic botanical garden all-year round, that is transformed into an illuminated wonderland for the TSB Festival of Lights from the 18th of December to the 5th of February. Later in summer, the park and adjoining Bowl of Brooklands is host to WOMAD, the world music festival. In 2017, it will be held from the 17th-19th of March.
Driving to WOMAD is an experience in itself. Throughout the Friday of the festival, convoys of cars and campervans stream into the city. Being a family-friendly event, there’s lots of pulling over on the side of the road to let out car sick children, or to answer other calls of nature! Driving to Taranaki in a hire car will give you the best opportunity to see it all. VroomVroomVroom's unique booking engine will find you the perfect car for your road trip at the best price.
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