Discover the North Island’s unique artistic experiences on the Coastal Arts Trail. This is a six-day itinerary, starting in New Plymouth that takes you from amazing art galleries to belly-laughing comedy at a local theatre, to museums and amazing views of Mount Taranaki (Egmont) and Mount Ruapehu. 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 (opens in new window)Campers NZ(opens in new window).
Start your journey in New Plymouth, one of the largest towns in Taranaki. Known for its amazing art galleries, sculptures and studios. You will not be disappointed by the culinary expertise presented on your plate with an impressive selection of local eateries.
Experience a bit of New Plymouth's creative side with a visit to the Len Lye Centre, home to the mirror rolling façade. With many galleries around the area - including Koru on Devon(opens in new window), Gover St Gallery(opens in new window) and Kina NZ(opens in new window). Travel either on foot or e-scooter for a great chance to take in the amazing view of Mt Taranaki (Egmont).
If you prefer to walk, be sure to check out New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway. Where you can enjoy public art on display such as Len Lye's giant wind wand(opens in new window), light on land, and mothers and daughters.
After spending the day exploring New Plymouth, discover more of the region and cruise along the coastline exploring the Surf Highway 45, a surfers playground. Be sure to stop at surf towns such as Ōakura and Ōpunake as you head towards Hāwera.
Start your journey in Hāwera to visit the water tower(opens in new window) and see one of the best views in Taranaki. Connect with the amazing talent that the region has to offer by visiting Lysaght Watt Gallery(opens in new window) and the Quirky Fox(opens in new window) for more beautiful artwork - grab yourself a souvenir to remember Hāwera by. Visit two award-winning museums with life-sized figurine displays at Tawhiti Museum(opens in new window) and Traders & Whalers(opens in new window).
After you've explored Hāwera, stop into Pātea, a town known for their hit song Poi E. Explore what Pātea has to offer by visiting Gallery Pātea(opens in new window), The Bank Room(opens in new window) - which also serves delicious coffee, then stop in to take a photo with the Aotea Waka, before heading to soak up some of the local history at Aotea Utanganui(opens in new window) - Museum of South Taranaki.
Head south to visit Fonterra Cheese Shop(opens in new window) and The Village Gallery(opens in new window) before grabbing a bite to eat at Fenton Street Arts Collective(opens in new window) - the hub of art, coffee and gin. Just around the corner is Percy Thomson Gallery(opens in new window), Stratford's public gallery.
Spend the night in a breath-taking alpine environment on the slope of Maunga Taranaki at Stratford Mountain House(opens in new window), the take some time to explore the surrounding tracks and trails including the Goblin Forest.
Start the morning in Whanganui by heading to Durie Hill(opens in new window) - the Southern Hemisphere's only underground elevator. A spiral staircase takes you to the lookout for views of Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu and the Whanganui River below. Head along the River Traders Market(opens in new window) on a Saturday to experience the makers of art and delicious street food.
Walk along the waterfront to the Quartz, Museum of Studio Ceramics,(opens in new window) which houses New Zealand's largest collection of publicly available ceramic works. Then circle around to a collection of galleries. Whanganui is known for its glass artistry, so check out Brown & Co(opens in new window), Sarjeant Gallery - Te Whare Tūhua O Te Ao(opens in new window) and one of New Zealand's most prestigious regional galleries NZ Glassworks - Te Whare O Rehua(opens in new window).
For a little change of scenery, head on down to Castlecliff Beach(opens in new window) - a prime surfing and swimming spot. Grab a bite to eat at the Citadel Cafe(opens in new window) and visit Vostinar Gallery(opens in new window) around the corner.
With many delicious food options to choose from restful riverside cafes to fine dining experiences. These are a few of the local favourites Maria Lane Eatery(opens in new window), High-Kut Bistro(opens in new window), and Frank Bar & Eatery(opens in new window). Settle into the evening with a relaxing drink at Porridge Watson(opens in new window) located in the arts precinct.
If one day is not enough, enjoy brunch at some local favourites - Article Cafe(opens in new window), Mud Ducks Cafe(opens in new window), Yellow House Cafe(opens in new window) and Cuban Belle(opens in new window). Afterwards, continue on to Te Awa Tupua (The Whanganui River) for a river cruise experience on two authentic riverboats - Paddle Steamer, Waimarie(opens in new window) and Motor Vessel Wairua(opens in new window).
Visit the Whanganui Regional Museum(opens in new window), which not only has an excellent Lindauer exhibition but a famed Tāonga Māori collection along with other historical exhibits featuring life in Whanganui.
Just when you thought it was over, Whanganui is also home to a Garden of National Significance that has art pieces interspersed throughout it's gorgeous setting - Paloma Gardens(opens in new window).
Feilding is known as New Zealand's most beautiful town and is located in the Manawatu region. It is home to many studios and art galleries including, Joe Mcmenamin's Art and Studio Gallery(opens in new window), and Feilding and District Art Society.
Looking for a place to unwind and enjoy delicious food? Try a local favourite set in a rural tranquility, with fourteen themed gardens - a place where kids will find fairies, gnomes and elves in the woods. The Herb Farm Cafe(opens in new window) offers an indoor and outdoor setting in the peaceful garden.
Spend some time at Suzanne McAllen Pottery(opens in new window) to browse or purchase some pottery to add to your collection before visiting Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery Centre(opens in new window) - who provide shelter for native wildlife. Not only can you see native wildlife, you can also check out the incredible Māori carvings around the centre. Take a walk around to discover Victoria Esplanade(opens in new window) and experience the scenic railway or bush walks.
Centrepoint Theatre(opens in new window) is your one stop for belly-laughing comedy - offering stage performances covering all genres.
Start off your morning in Palmerston North - a city filled with creativity and music that brings the streets alive. At the heart of the city lives a vibrant arts centre dedicated to cultural and art communities, the Square Edge Arts Centre(opens in new window) offers countless ways to connect creatively within a beautiful art deco building.
Also in the heart of the city is Te Manawa Art Gallery(opens in new window), and Zimmerman Art Gallery(opens in new window) - both dedicated to collecting and showcasing work by significant New Zealand artists.
Finish up your Coastal Arts Trail experience in Foxton, where you can experience hands-on, living culture at Te Awahou Riverside Cultural Park(opens in new window).